OTR Links 05/29/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

CSTA 2015 Conference Announcement – UT Dallas Outing

Calling all 2015 conference attendees!

As we are nearing the final weeks until CSTA 2015, we’d like to highlight an added bonus to our attendees. All conference attendees are invited to join us on Monday, July 13, 2015, for an evening gathering at the University of Texas, Dallas from 5-8:00 pm. After Monday’s workshops conclude, be prepared to relax and mingle. Transportation will be included to and from the conference, as we enjoy the hosted reception, dinner buffet and tour.

With more than 1,300 bachelor’s-degree students, 1,100 master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 75 faculty members, UT Dallas computer science department is one of the largest CS departments in the US, offering a broad range of courses in almost every area of computer science and software engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Come and learn about our exciting research on cyber security, intelligent systems, data sciences, computer algorithms, computer networks and more. Learn about the largest University-based K-12 computer science outreach effort in the country, and our unique mentoring model that ensures that students actually learn.

Please join the UT Dallas Department of Computer Science faculty and students for an enlightening evening of conversation and computing project demos.

You must pre-register for this event, which you may do while you’re registering for the conference at: http://www.cstaconference.org

A New Blog Editor

I’ve said for a long time now that the best blog editor on the market, bar none, is Microsoft’s Live Writer.

LiveWriter Home Menu


LiveWriter Insert Menu

It’s a real joy to create blog posts there but it’s got problems for my personal workflow.  It requires you to be running Windows.  I spend more time in Ubuntu or Mac OS so I’d have to specifically boot into Windows 7 to use it.  For me, it’s important to be able to write a post no matter what computer I’m using.  To that end, I either create the post in the WordPress editor itself or more likely, using the ScribeFire extension in a browser.  It’s there when I need it.

WordPress Editor

ScribeFire Editor

Both are great ways to compose, edit, and post blog entries.  The ability to save Drafts mean that I don’t have to create a post in a single sitting.  My proofreading team (hi Lisa and Sheila) would undoubtedly ask that I spend more time on that task but it is what it is.  At least I know that two people read my posts for content and meaning.

This morning, the field gets bigger.  I read this story.

Microsoft Announces New OneNote Partnership with WordPress

Right off the bat, I had to tip my hat to the commenters to the post.  You did make me smile.  But the ramifications of this are interesting.

OneNote already has a comprehensive set of composing and editing features.

OneNote Home Menu

OneNote Insert Menu

A great deal of energy has been spent convincing people to use OneNote instead of Evernote or Google Keep as your on-the-fly note taker.  Now, a plugin to WordPress ups the ante nicely.  Imagine using the same tool that you would use for notetaking anyway as a blogging editor.  Since Microsoft doesn’t have a public blogging tool that I’m aware of, the partnership with a biggy in the market seemed natural.  I’m assuming Blogger didn’t return their call?

Many school districts have adopted Office 365 as their productivity platform but have lamented the lack of a blogging tool which is so powerful in education.

Could this be their answer?

OTR Links 05/28/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

On Pushback

I remember taking a course in university.  It was called the “History of Education” or something like that.  I also remember the textbook that we had to buy.  It was a very thin paperback with chapters devoted to educational researchers – Thorndike, Piaget, Montessori, Bruner, Skinner, …  If I recall correctly, there were thirteen of these education thinkers and we studied the works of each one, every week.  I like to think I’ve been most influenced by Montessori but I can see elements of the others.

I also remember the professor on the first night and his statement “We’ve been trying to understand how education and learning works for years and we’re going to study all of these but none have got it completely right”.  I remember my classmate turning to me and saying “Why didn’t he get us to buy the book with the person who did get it right?”  Yeah, we were way too young.

Even in my short period of time in education, I’ve seen various theorists come and go and we’re still in search of the magic bullet.  Fortunately, as a system, we definitely are getting much better at understanding how learning happens.

Aside from learning in general, there’s another system under research and that’s the use of educational technology.  If you’re a blog reader, you’ll have read about the magic bullets touted for educational technology, the latest being the SAMR model.

Miguel Guhlin caught my eye with his post yesterday “Tearing Down False gods: SAMR Pushback Begins (Updated)” and this morning Mark Anderson with “SAMR is not a ladder, a word of warning“.  Both are terrific posts and well worth your time to click through and read.  Both posts make reference to a couple of others “Why I’m Done with SAMR” by Mark Samberg and “What’s Wrong with SAMR in Education” by LeiLani Cauthen.  Read both these as well and then reflect back on your own thoughts on the topic.

There have been a lot of inane things that you see by those who have taken this model as an absolute.  “We got rid of SMARTBoards because of SAMR” and “I teach above the line” and “##### ####### has created an infographic of every educational app in the App Store and rated them according to SAMR”.  How can someone not in my district, my school, my classroom makes these decisions?  We’ve all read and seen the somewhat sarcastic, somewhat truthful posts about the need to study pencils in education with as much energy as we do other technologies.

I find comments like this and the way that people are using these things as just sad and, quite frankly, a discredit to the profession.  After all, do an internet search for “It’s not about the technology” and see what falls out.  More importantly, take a look at the focus.  It’s all about the teaching when the real focus should be on the learning.  When focused solely on the teaching, technology use becomes absolutes.  When focused on learning, it enables differentiation opportunities and, most importantly, increased the chance that students take charge of their own learning.

I’ve always chosen a simpler route.  As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways that you can use technology:

  • to do things differently;
  • to do different things.

all within the context of the subject matter being learned.

Of course, this is not the only “technology model”.  Miguel has a nice collection on his wiki.

Even this presentation takes me back to that university course.  There isn’t just one listed.  All of the researchers that we studied opened the door to our understanding of student learning.  None of them stand on their own.  Our understanding is growing and evolving.  So, it’s good to see pushback to those who would label this as the defining standard by which all should be evaluated.