Blog Archives

What’s going on at the moment

This dear ole blog seems to have taken a back seat in recent times.  Now it’s back to reality and I’m playing catch-up with the Internet news.

I’ve now got so many Firefox tabs open that the laptop is starting to slow down. Here’s a snap-shot of what’s there at the moment:

  • Ping – social networking around itunes from Apple.  A nice way of doing the who’s-zooming-who thing. Seems to be getting mixed reaction so far though
  • Axl Rose throwing a strop – tsk tsk, that band don’t like being on time
  • Blame gravity. Apparently we evolved out of nothing, no divine intervention in our being part of planet earth.
  • How to treat employees like responsible adults – now, isn’t this sensible?  Treat employees responsibly and they will actually produce the goods.  No clock watching, no regimentary day, no thou-shalt-not-take-time-off-to-rescue-your-ill-child.  As long as the work gets done, you can set your own day-to-day working conditions.  And it works.  Shows that happens when an employer trusts employees, though it is open to abuse.  Nice plug for Clay Shirkey’s new book at the end.
  • Work practice ideas from HBR – John Hagel 111 & John Seely Brown blogging in the Harvard Business Review tell us 6 interesting common-sense work rules.  The last one, in particular, speaks volumes.  Killing off employees’ passion for their work is truly disastrous.  It’s common sense but sadly all too common.
  • Value-Added Modeling – Scary that this is being taken so seriously. Assessing teachers is not easy. It’s not meant to be easy.  Hence, there is a need to use multiple methods. Sacking teachers because they rank lowly on this scheme alone is downright dangerous.  Read the article to see the holes that can be pulled in the concept.
  • Blogtalk – would love to have gone but alas………….  Good to have a highlights page though. The debate on location-based social networking looks interesting. I can’t for the life of me decide if I like the “I’m in Limerick Junction waiting for the train” type tweets or not.  Foursquare seems to be taking off, meaning that the location stuff is popular.  Social Identity construction looked like an interesting discussion too. I’m fascinated by how the internet allows alter egos to emerge without rejecting the true persona.  It’s like unleashing a part of yourself that would be otherwise hidden for various reasons.
  • Illume – Just in case you have nothing to do in the city for the next week or so, troddle along to illume in the courtyard in tcd to see some seriously high quality sports photography. I wonder why all the photographers seem to be male?
  • Alternatives to Ning – The guys at Ning went to a paid model earlier this year and promptly lost a lot of users, who went off to find free alternatives. This site gives a nice listing of what alternatives are what under various criteria of interest.   Have to ‘fess up and admit that a lot of these are new to me.
  • Enn.ie – I like the content of this site but the layout of the home page makes me want to cry. There’s just too much there, I don’t know where to start.
  • Facebook is numero uno – just in case you didn’t know already, here are the stats to support the claim.

So there.  That’s what trending in my life at the moment.

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(Un)Constructive Learning

Now, here’s an interesting guy
Some Quotes from Stephen Heppell –

“It is a stumbling block that we are still building 19th century schools for the 21st century. We have to ask the hard questions. Why do we ring a bell and expect 1000 children to be hungry all at the same time? Because it is convenient”.

and another –
We need to let go of the productivity definition of education. When we do let go, we see huge leaps in engagement and learning but acknowledges it is difficult to get people to let go. He thinks we need to find excuses to do it just now, but when people experience it working, they don’t want to go back. Agility is the key.

So there!

On the one hand, I completely agree. Couldnt agree more. We force learners into our definition of learning, we expect them to show their learning through daft outcomes such as writing essays at the e-x-a-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n and woe betide them if they dont get the 40%. And what does it all mean anyhow? What are we measuring? What are we looking for? It’s at this time of the year that I feel guilty looking at rows and rows of students in their isolation bubbles writing essays in a very unconstructive way. How realistic is it to ask students to put away their books and computers and phones and gadgets etc, write an essay on an unseen topic with nothing but a pencil and blank paper? And then, to repeat myself – why? Are our assessment methods killing off joy of learning?

Back to Stephen Heppell – “How do you measure creativity? What is the equivalent of a 1500 word essay? Managing an online discussion for a week? Creating a 10 second video? Posting a podcast?”.