Thursday, April 29, 2010

Subscribing to YouTube RSS feed

Handy reference from David Warlick on how to create a YouTube RSS feed.  Someone asked me this the other day and I didn't know.  This saved me some search time.  Might save you a few steps too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Learner's Journey

While searching for a picture  of a Head First book for yesterday's post, I stumbled across this description of the learning process by one of the Head First editors, Brian Sawyer.

They use a slightly different metaphor to describe the learning process. They call it a  Journey.  He describes a basic outline in the slideshow below.

Learner's Journey from Brian Sawyer on Vimeo.

In the footnote to this post, Brian describes the reasoning behind the Journey process:
"While this post focuses on the construction of what we call the Learner's Journey, the concepts behind the idea really warrant a post of their own. In brief, though this particular approach and visualization was developed in house, the ideas behind it are loosely modeled on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, combining teaching elements with a compelling scenario to create a rewarding quest for the protagonist (the learner) to accomplish."

How cool is that! I would have loved it if my EDU 100 instructor had come in with a copy of the Hero's with a Thousand Faces and said, "Before we get any further with this teaching stuff, I want you to read this book." Education as a journey. As a quest. I love this.  In the slide show he covered many of the same concepts we did in education.  I like this metaphor better than the one we used.  While it was never stated as such, I think what I got was the factory metaphor.  Raw materials in. Finished competent citizen out.

[Image: Flickr: "The JLC - keeping the Piedmont safe since 2006"; Uploaded on July 4, 2006 by Cryptonaut;  (CC:Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Creating Passionate Users

Creating Passionate Users is a website created by Kathy Sierra, one of the people responsible for developing the Head First Style of books available from O'reilly.  Head First takes difficult subjects and presents them in an engaging way.  I have several of the Head First books and enjoyed them thoroughly.  I think many of the techniques used in the books would be beneficial in any classroom: use of pictures, redundancy, emotional content, conversational style, challenging activities, and hitting multiple learning styles.

Creating Passionate Users has all kinds of useful ideas and examples based on her experiences and feedback from the Head First books.  Unfortunately, she stopped posting to the blog in 2007, but the posts are still valuable.

[Image captured from Head First Labs:]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Creative Commons Music

My multimedia students are creating some simple music videos in MovieMaker this week.  Finding music to use can be a issue. Kids want to download copyrighted materials and I am trying to get them to think about what is OK to use and what is not.  Especially if they want to post their work online for the world to see.  The following three sites are ones I am going to list this year as a source for music with Creative Common licenses.

Free Music Archive



Warning!  I have run across album covers that have pictures inappropriate for school in Jemendo.  I can also assume there will be language on some of these songs in all these sites that are not school appropriate as well.  So, before I send my kids off to search in class,  I will have "the talk" with them.  Same talk I have when they are doing image searches.

[Image: "An era passed";Flickr:Uploaded on November 17, 2008 by Olivander: (CC:Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teacher Accountability

Friend sent me the link to this article, Teacher Accountability? It's About Time!
Here is one short quote from the piece about how we've stopped trusting teachers to evaluate our kids and turned to standardized tests instead.
"About a generation ago, acceptance of teacher judgment about the quality of student work began to disappear. Waving the "standards and accountability!" banner, leaders of business and industry convinced politicians that this generation's teachers (unlike those they remembered from their own schooling) couldn't be trusted to evaluate learner performance. Today's teachers, they were sure, suffered from "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

An interesting read.  Don't forget to read the comments for and against the author's point of view at the bottom.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chariot Skates

I saw something that looked similar to these Chariot Skates at a Cirque de Soleil performance a few years back. I came home that day and sketched out a few diagrams of how I might build a pair for myself. My thought was they would work better off the bike paths and on gravel or dirt paths then inline skates.  I never pursued the design and those diagrams are buried in a notebook somewhere. Never even thought of it again until I saw this post on dVice.

"According to creator Michael Jenkins, Chariot Skates are faster, handle rough terrain better, retain momentum longer and offer a more fluid and comfortable experience. We'll believe faster right off the bat, as these odd-looking skates boast a top speed of 24 miles an hour. "

Unfortunately, the cost will be around $1100 and so I won't be getting a pair anytime soon.  I like the concept though and am looking forward to hearing about some real world testing and results.

Check out the Chariot Skates home page for more details.

Testing 1st samples from new moulds in Sydney & China from Chariot Skates on Vimeo.

The second video shows how you can stop.  Always a good skill if you are traveling at speeds above 20mph.

Stopping from Chariot Skates on Vimeo.

[via dVice]

[Image captured from dVice:]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Collapse of Complex Business Models

The Collapse of Complex Business Models by Clay Shirky discusses how complex systems collapse and relates this idea to industries being changed by the internet and technology.  He closes with this paragraph.

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

Shirky doesn't talk about education but my thoughts have been on Scott McLeod's recent talk about education and the premise that schools are becoming irrelevant.  I look at the reforms and suggestions around me and they all seem to be aimed at making our educational system more complex. More rules.  More forms. More tests.  At what point does our educational system become too complex?  Too unwieldly? To the point where some group of different thinking folks just make an end run around "how things have always been done" and leave us cleaning the chalk dust off our trousers wondering what just happened.

[Image: "Theatre Entrance"; Flickr: Uploaded on October 19, 2007 by iamtheh; (creative commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)]

Monday, April 12, 2010

TED Talk: Dennis Hong on Robots

Dennis Hong from ReMeLa gives a facinating talk on robot research.  Lot's of good clips of some of the various robots under development. I  like how Hong describes (around 12:30) keeping a notebook by his bed to capture thoughts and images that he gets as he falls asleep.  He then types these up into something intelligible in the morning.  These images have been the basis of some of his grants and proposals.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Juggling Tutorials

OK...I know that juggling is a little out of place on this blog. Unless you stretch a little bit and think of it from a learning standpoint... and I've always wanted to learn to be a juggler.

Just Your Average Joggler had a post about a series of juggling tutorials from a contest sponsered by the International Jugglers Association.  Lots of fun stuff here.

I've watched several now and am working on the Three Ball Mills Mess by Tony Steinbach.  (embeded below)

[Image: Captured from the video]