now with 100% real page numbers!

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Anyone who’s ever tried to read an ebook while a larger group reads the printed version of the same book knows the frustration of trying to keep up in a discussion, referencing oddly-numbered sections instead of pages. I was looking at the Kindle version of a book the other day and saw that it used real pages numbers. What took so long, and is this something that we can expect to see with all ebooks?

The fact that real page numbers are being touted as a feature makes me think this isn’t the case for all digital publications just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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My failed #GTANY application. (Or, the importance of being a little more public.)

Last week, I spent a little too much time on my family vacation worrying about and procastinating finishing the video portion of my Google Teacher Academy #GTANY application. I finished the video on the last day applications were being accepted and clicked the submit button.

Yesterday, as I realized that notification day for the academy was today, I checked on my video’s viewship. Two hits? That’s it? They must really give a small group of people access to the videos, I thought. It was then that I realized that I had left the video private. Not unlisted, but private. As in, no one could see it. So much for that.

If I had just been a little more open to criticism and not tried so hard to hide my video, this wouldn’t have happened. I feel like a big dummy for making such a rookie mistake.

Here’s the video that I meant to share with the folks at Google. Maybe next time.

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on the importance of connections in education

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Close connection – Verbundenheit by alles-schlumpf, on Flickr

 

I recently wrote a post on the abundance of options that most adults have when it comes to their continuing educations, and while I don’t think that K-12 students have anywhere near that many opportunities to define what their education looks like, Christian Talbot nails what’s important in education, and what we might not see enough of: connections.

(And he also introduced me to the idea of the meddler in the middle.)

After reading his post, I realized that this is the problem I’ve been having with many online learning environments. Not all of them, mind you, but definitely the ones that I’m paying way too much for. As a student, I don’t have a real connection with many of my teacher, and it manifests itself in a lack of interest at best, and a lack of understanding at worst. If anything, it’s a good lesson about how not to create a learning environment, online or in-person. 

In addition to connecting with students, this is also a reminder to connect as a professional. The value of connections is what makes being part of a PLN so enriching and rewarding. We should want to be a part of something bigger than we are, and to know about things via other perspectives and points of view… the same things that we want for our students. We shouldn’t be so different from them.

The rush to innovate should be tempered with the reminder to connect. Let’s make sure that everything is working — pedagogically, technologically, and otherwise — before we bring in something new. Let’s make sure that we’re reaching our students, giving them a voice and a choice about what their education looks like. This is a reminder to iterate, to tinker, to refine until things work the way we think they should, to reach out for help and perspective when we need it.

Christian is the new head of school at Malvern Prep — they’re lucky to have someone who sees the value of the intangibles, the things that will make teaching and learning better, more motivating, and more interesting for everyone involved. 

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what i learned on the internet today

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Well, ok, yesterday.

Since I’ve had these sneakers, I’ve been plagued by just about the worst thing I can think of. Locusts? Nope. Frogs? No. Sneaker tongue sliding to the side of my foot? Yup. Terrible times, indeed. I mean, can you imagine anything worse?

I’m not sure why it took me so long to do this, but right before I almost bought some odd sneaker contraption, I found this video:

And wouldn’t you know? It worked PERFECTLY. My sneaker slipping was solved… until I remembered that the other reason I hated these shoes was because they often came untied. But wait, there’s a fix for that, too:

And so, in two quick YouTube searches, I found the answer to two problems that I’ve had every day for months, something that literally affected thousands of steps I took every day. 

Imagine if I harnessed the power of the internet for something important. There’s just so much to learn… and to share.

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motivation, choice, and education

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CC-licensed image by Ibán

i was chatting with a friend on facebook recently when he told me that he was in the middle of class. i thought he had long since finished an MBA, so when i asked him about it, he said that it was a python class he was taking at NYU SCPS. to me, this was a great example of what education should be — interest-based and self-motivated. i suppose those two together get you passion, and there’s a lot of passion-based education avaiable, though i think there’s more of it outside of schools than inside them.

if we take a look outside of schools, there are so many models that cater to adults that want to take and teach classes out of personal interest. the brooklyn brainery, skillshare, and p2pu all let adults take classes on a range of topics that they’re interested in and even teach a course if they’re so inclined. ds106 takes an course that is concurrently taught at several institutions and opens up the material, assignments, and experience to anyone that wants to join. duolingo and codeacademy are free sites that let anyone decide that they want to learn a new language, whether it’s spanish or web programming. i just signed up for my first class — a photography class — with skillshare, and i got a $10 scholarship from zappos just for taking the class and requesting the money. talk about a great system.

so many choices… but they’re all meant for adults who want to expand their knowledge.

can this model be adapted for K12 education? what would it look like to have kids choose from an a la carte menu of course offerings? most schools offer some selection of electives, but i’m thinking beyond that. how often do students get to choose from a selection of core courses to shape their own education?

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just because you can doesn’t mean you should

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i love 3D printing. i’m excited about what we’re going to be able to do as we rewrite our technology/design curriculum for the coming school year, and really excited about a future that might have everyone able to design and print things instead of going to a store and buying them.

but we need to be careful about a lack of creativity that might come with that. this shouldn’t be about copying, but about creating and sharing. as teachers, we should already be spending a lot of time talking to our students about licensing, creative commons, and attribution — and to date, that’s probably been all discussed around the written word, photos, and videos. but this has to become an issue with printable items.

i saw this awesome 3D-printed mashup of optimus prime and mr. potato head on the ISTE12 exhibit floor yesterday. the problem is that it already exists, and this is likely the ABS plastic equivalent of a times square elmo – it sort of looks right, but it’s legit, and no permission was given to use the likeness. where’s the licensing? the attribution?

we have to encourage our students to create instead of copy. instead of creating knock-off lego blocks, they should be designing things like the free univeral connection kit, making something good even better.

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