Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

University Websites: Top 10 Design Guidelines

In preparing a new full-day course on designing university websites, we conducted a range of user studies. In total, we tested 57 higher-education sites with users in the United States, Canada, UK, and Taiwan. We recruited prospective students, both undergraduate and graduate, as well as parents of prospective students. Users were asked to think aloud while performing exploratory tasks

Google Course Builder, why it’s cool and why it’ll fail

I was very excited when I saw the announcement for Google’s new Course Builder platform. Education is such a big part of libraries but they’re all on their own, constantly reinventing the wheel from scratch. A free, consistent platform librarians could build on and share the way they have other technologies could make life a lot easier for librarians in the public and special sectors as well as academics.

So I went digging for information.

  1. It looks like you can limit registration to your course using Google’s Apps for Education service so that only people from your school try to access restricted resources.
  2. It’s a hosted app so the URL is “theappname.appspot.com.”
  3. It won’t work for most educators I know.

The last is disappointing. Course Builder’s webpage describes several of the same options included in Blackboard except with more flexibility, making for a promising alternative. However, the problem is in the backend. These courses aren’t products of an application, they’re apps themselves.

In short, you have to be at least a minor programmer to make this work. To even start requires installing Python on your own computer which leaves most library systems out (IT departments tend to frown on that sort of thing). Creating the course needs HTML and more than light javascript knowledge at the very least.

I don’t know many educators with these kinds of  skills or the time to acquire them.

Course Builder is definitely in beta with several features already requested. It’s possible it’ll become more user-friendly in the next year but Google doesn’t have a very good track record with that.

In short,  join the community to provide much-needed feedback if you can, or check back next year to see if it’s still around.

In Victory for Open-Education Movement, Blackboard Embraces Sharing

Blackboard_logo

Professors who use Blackboard’s software have long been forced to lock their course materials in an area effectively marked, “For Registered Students Only,” while using the system. Today the company announced plans to add a “Share” button that will let professors make those learning materials free and open online.

The move may be the biggest sign yet that the idea of “open educational materials” is going mainstream, nearly 10 years after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology first began giving away lecture notes online. Blackboard made the change after college officials complained that the company’s software, which more than half the colleges in the country use for their online-course materials, was holding them back from trying open-education projects.

How database searches solved a 50-year-old medical mystery

Calcium supplement pills

Whats really interesting is how the Mootha Lab did it. Sure, there was plenty of traditional wet lab work involving pipettes, beakers, and chemical reagents – but techniques like these had failed to identify MCU for close to fifty years. The difference was the Mootha labs strategic and creative searching of publicly-accessible biological databases.

via How database searches solved a 50-year-old medical mystery.

Disrupting Class: Honoring Multiple Intelligences through a Student-Centric Approach | Technology Teacher

disrupting class book cover

He says we need to move to more student-centric learning, using the strengths of technology to help students learn in their own ways (you remember Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences?). For instance, instead of assessing students at the end of a unit, we should test them daily, using technology to capture and record data, thus allowing the teacher to more efficiently help students learn at their own level and speed.

via Disrupting Class: Honoring Multiple Intelligences through a Student-Centric Approach | Technology Teacher.  via @mstephens7

I hated the U.S. educational system when I was in it, mostly because I spent most of my time locked up in classrooms bored out of my mind. I was a perfect example of someone who needed a different approach, I got good grades but I wonder how much more I could have learned if I had been involved.

Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation

student

Most professors I know are willing to talk with students about pursuing a PhD, but their advice comes down to three words: don’t do it.

At Yale, we were overjoyed if half our graduating students found positions. That’s right—half. Imagine running a medical school on that basis. As Christopher Newfield points out in Unmaking the Public University (2008), that’s the kind of unemployment rate you’d expect to find among inner-city high school dropouts. And this was before the financial collapse. In the past three years, the market has been a bloodbath: often only a handful of jobs in a given field, sometimes fewer, and as always, hundreds of people competing for each one.

via Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation.

How Children Fail: angry lessons from failures to teach

How Children Fail: angry lessons from failures to teach – Boing Boing

…The valiant and resolute band of travelers I thought I was leading toward a much-hoped-for destination turned out instead to be more like convicts on a chain-gang, forced under threat of punishment to move along a rough path leading nobody knew where and down which they could see hardly more than a few steps ahead. School feels like this to children: it is a place where they make you go and where they tell you to do things and where they try to make your life unpleasant if you don’t do them or don’t do them right…

So many people have said to me, “If we didn’t make children do things, they wouldn’t do anything.” Even worse, they say, If I weren’t made to do things, I wouldn’t do anything.

It is the creed of the slave …

I felt like this all through school, even grad school. I read an article a couple of years ago where the author stated that the American school system was built to process corporate drones. No creativity needed. Now that corporations are becoming more automated, that system is breaking down. My aunt home-schools her children because the system isn’t challenging enough for them.

Video: How to Speak

Video: How to Speak

In this skillful lecture, Professor Patrick Winston of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers tips on how to give an effective talk, cleverly illustrating his suggestions by using them himself. He emphasizes how to start a lecture, cycling in on the material, using verbal punctuation to indicate transitions, describing “near misses” that strengthen the intended concept, and asking questions. He also talks about using the blackboard, overhead projections, props, and “how to stop.”
Running time: 45 minutes.

Do schools kill creativity?

swissmiss: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize — much less cultivate — the talents of many brilliant people. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. The universality of his message is evidenced by its rampant popularity online. A typical review: “If you have not yet seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, please stop whatever you’re doing and watch it now.”</blockquote