Thursday, April 20, 2006

A few recent articles/sites of interest

Ivy league schools and online education.

Minnesota Future Work Scan says that Twenty percent of U.S. college students completing 4-year degrees, and 30 percent of students earning 2-year degrees, have only basic quantitative literacy skills, meaning they are unable to estimate if their car has enough gasoline to get to the next gas station or calculate the total cost of ordering office supplies.

LibriVox: free audiobooks LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then we release the audio files back onto the net (podcast and catalog). Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project.

Technorati now tracks over 35 million blogs, with a new blog created every second and a majority of bloggers still contributing to their blog three months after it is created. The blogoshpere is doubling in size every six months.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Update on Web 2.0 Workshops

For those who attended one of the Web 2.0 workshops earlier this month, here are a few interesting articles:

1) What's missing from Web 2.0, by Stowe Boyd at /Message

2) Predictions about the future of the Web 2.0 social experience, by Web Design From Scratch

3) Best of Web Office Products by

4) Web 2.0 for teaching learning, a good Educause paper by Brian Alexander

5) Most Promising Web 2.0 Software of 2006, by Dion Hinchcliffe

NOTE: this is my first attempt at posting directly to the blog using the FireFox "Performancing" extension. Good luck to me.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Expand your vocabulary

CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone A.D.D. (Ballantine Books, 2006), a new book by Dr. Edward M. Hallowell has been on my wannabe reading list for the past month. I still don't have a copy, but a couple of articles about it have piqued my interest even more.

From the Dayton Daily News, Amelia Robinson shares some of Hallowell's new words from the book:

  • Screensucking: Wasting time looking at any screen — video game, television, computer, etc.
  • Taildogging: Allowing the tail to wag the dog. Going fast or pushing harder on yourself, your kids or your business just because other people are doing so and you don't want to be left behind in life's great race.
  • Frazzing: Multitasking ineffectively.
  • Doomdarts: An obligation you have forgotten about that suddenly pops into your consciousness like a poisoned dart.
In the New York Times, Lisa Belkin mentions those above, and adds a few more of her own, such as:
  • Cellopain: the jerk who talks loudly and obliviously on his cellphone in a crowd.
  • Regurgimailer: people who forward to everyone they know everything that lands in their in-boxes.
  • Logonorrhea: a related condition that renders you unable to use certain online accounts because you can remember neither your screen name nor your password.
I'm pretty sure that Hallowell has some real substance in his book as well, but the new words alone might be worth the cover price.

First try with Evoca

For those who attended my Web 2.0 workshops, I mentioned that I was having trouble getting my account set up with Evoca, which looked like a good tool for audio files, podcasting, and more. Well, this is my first shot at it.

This is a minute and a half reading (by me) from the book titled The Future of Ideas by Lawrence Lessig. I'm only half way through the book, but I can tell you that it is excellent. Great info about intellectual property, copyright, open source, and many other related things. I highly recommend.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another interesting snippet

Lifted from: The Net Generation Goes to College, by Scott Carlson

"I had a feeling that the Millennials were different," the Penn State professor says. "This brought the differences into sharp focus for me."

Sitting in his office, its walls covered with pictures of his six children (two of whom are Millennials), Mr. Sweeney ticks off some of those differences:

  • "They have no brand loyalty," he says. They "accept as their right" the ability to make choices and customize the things they choose.
  • They are more educated than their parents and expect to make more money. "Many more have changed majors and expect to change jobs and careers," Mr. Sweeney says. But they often wait until they are already well into a major or a career track before they decide to make a change, he adds.
  • Playing with gizmos and digital technology is second nature to them. "They like portability, and they are frustrated by technology that tethers them to a specific location," he says. Studies show that Millennials don't read as much as previous generations did. They prefer video, audio, and interactive media.
  • They multitask. "They are much more likely to mix work and play than we are," he says, "playing a game or chatting while they are doing an assignment."
  • "In grade school, they were pushed to collaboration," which explains the popularity of group study in college today, Mr. Sweeney says. "The collaboration," he adds, "is both in-person and virtual."
  • Moreover, "they want to learn, but they want to learn only what they have to learn, and they want to learn it in a style that is best for them," he says. Often they prefer to learn by doing.
So, it seems to me that we have a generation of students who are very much a moving target. There are many different books/articles/opinions out there about who they are and how they are different from all previous generations. Not only do they break the previous molds, but they don't fit nicely into their own mold either. I guess we just keep trying to reach them, but I suggest that we try some new techniques because the old ones are playing very poorly with the "traditional" college students.

A few choice passages

A few choice passages from the 2004 work by Mark Bauerlein: A Very Long Disengagement

Civics. In 1999 the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reported that more than two-thirds of ninth graders study the Constitution, Congress, or the presidency. Unfortunately, their course work hasn't sunk in. In a 2003 survey on the First Amendment commissioned by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, only one in 50 college students named the first right guaranteed in the amendment, and one out of four did not know any freedom protected by it.

… Barely half of those surveyed said that "paying attention to government and politics" is important to good citizenship. While 64 percent knew the name of the latest "American Idol," only 10 percent could identify the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Geography. In 2002 the National Geographic Society issued the results of the Global Geographic Literacy Survey. Thirty-nine percent of American 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed failed the test, and in international comparisons Americans came in second to last out of nine nations tested. Only 13 percent of our country's participants could pinpoint Iraq, only 12 percent could identify Afghanistan. The rate rose to just 51 percent for those who could locate New York State. Moreover, the young American adults surveyed could identify an average of only 2.5 countries in Europe. Around 30 percent believed that this nation has one billion to two billion residents (young people in other countries scored higher in estimating U.S. population), and only 19 percent could name four nations that acknowledge having nuclear weapons. Remarkably, 29 percent could not identify the Pacific Ocean.

… The geography survey found that, despite the high Internet usage among young adults, only 11 percent of the respondents said they use the Internet to follow the news. Eighty-two percent stated that they keep up with events by watching television, but a growing proportion tune in to programs of dubious informational value. A January 2004 study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart "are now mentioned almost as frequently as newspapers and evening network news programs as regular sources for election news." A story on the report in The Hollywood Reporter began, "To a young generation of Americans, Jon Stewart may as well be Walter Cronkite."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Napolean Dynamite takes over

I haven't looked into who did this, how, or why...but right now I'm just enjoying the movie.

Monday, April 03, 2006

More Technology Findings - 2 minutes

Findings #4 (Technology is not an 'extra') and #5 (In-school access to technology is limited) from the "Listening to Student Voices" report. Click the pink Play button.

Writing from Chicago

I’ve been at the Higher Learning Commission annual meetings for the past couple of days. Although this is not a technology-focused conference, the best speakers that I’ve seen have had a technology angle. Maybe I'm the only who thinks this, so I guess there's a chance that I'm biased.

Mark Milliron, former CEO of the League of Innovation in the Community College and now a V.P. at SAS, delivered a great keynote about “Insight.” Basically he makes the case that we have a lot learn in Higher Ed from the Amazon.coms and 1-800-Flowers of the world about how to relate to our customers/students. He is an extremely polished speaker and always has an important message to share (I’ve probably heard him speak 10 times over the past 5 years).

A few takeaways from his talk (although none of these were his main points):

  • Why do we continue to show a two-year program planner to students when only 5% of them finish a “two-year” degree in two years. Similarly, why do we continue to call them two-year degrees and two-year schools? Who are we trying to kid?
  • Suggested reading list:

His point about data-based decision making is a good one. We need to be able to make real-time decisions using data, not two to four years after the fact. We should be collecting student data to help students, but not just help the students who will come to us at some point in the future after we have figured out what we are learning from the current batch of students. In other words, students want to know: “How can you use information about me…to help me?”

Another great session was offered by Mark Taylor of Arkansas State University – Beebe. His session was titled: Generation NeXt Comes to College: 2006 Updates and Emerging Issues. He commented several times about how he couldn’t possibly cram 3 hours of material into 45 minutes, but he did a pretty good job of moving along at “fast-twitch” speed, which is of course the way I like it.

Taylor says that the book Millennials Rising by Howe and Strauss has it all wrong. (Here's someone else who thinks that too.) I think I agree with him. He provides compelling evidence that the current 18-26 year old group (which he calls the NeXt generation) is not at all the throw-back to traditionalist values that Howe and Strauss predicted: "Over the next decade, the Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged--with potentially seismic consequences for America." (see here)

Taylor is another speaker who makes the point that we cannot continue to use old-school approaches to educating the youth of today. He comes at it from a slightly different angle than some of the other "we will soon be irrelevant" evangelists (whom I happen to agree with), but he does offer reasonable solutions to bringing higher ed into the 21st century, even though so many of us old fogies are stuck in a world that will never exist again.

The sad truth for me is that I did find much of the rest of the conference to fall into that "same-old, same-old" school of thought. Not many new ideas, not much thinking outside of the box, and not much real evidence of significant change in how well we (and other levels, especially K-12) are educating the students of today.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What K-12 Students Have to Say

I've been reading one of the reports from education evolving dot org, which is a joint venture between Hamline University and the Center for Policy Studies. They have reports on several projects, many of which revolve around a theme that strikes a chord with .... "listening to student voices."

One of the reports is titled: Listening to Student Voices -- on Technology. Tech-savvy students stuck in text-dominated schools: A summary of available research on student attitudes, perceptions, and behavior on technology and its current and potential role in K-12 education.

Here are a few of the takeaways from this report:
Finding #1: Computer and Internet Use is Growing. Nothing too surpising here...

  • Between the ages of 13 and 17 they are spending more time using digital media than watching television.
  • In 2004, 93.4 of college students owned a computer.
  • Laptop ownership has now surpassed desktop ownership for entering college freshman.
  • For kids in grades 6-12:
  • 80% have an email address and 22 percent have four or more email addresses.
  • 76% have one Instant Messaging (IM) screen name and 26% have four or more screen names.
  • 78% go online regularly and almost 94% of those kids have used the Internet for school or research projects.
Finding #2: Students are sophisticated users.
  • Generally speaking, I think it is safe to say (from the reported research) that students generally consider themselves to be more tech-savvy than their teachers.
  • Younger students tend to be more avid and rapid learners and adopters of using technology, and older kids tend to be more sophisticated users or use the technology at a deeper level.
  • Students who have Internet access at home believe that they have significant advantages over their peers who have little or no access.
Finding #3: Technology is important to students' education.
  • 71% (ages 12-17) said they used Internet sources most frequently in their last big report for school.
  • Only 10% say their first choice would be to visit a library to find a book on a subject.
  • 91% in grades 7-12 say that technology helps them complete their school assignments. They also say that using the Internet improves their motivation to learn and improves their academic performance.
  • Students say that math teachers are least likely to use the Internet as part of instruction.
There are a total of 15 findings in this report. I will continue to post more of the highlights over the next week or so.