Monday, May 29, 2006

Let's Face(book) It

Good post on the growing desire for schools to integrate (co-opt?) technologies students are already using on their own: Let's Face(book) It. As I've said before, I think this strategy is doomed. Institutions creating their own social software spaces (blogging apps, e-portfolios, social-networking systems) to try to harness student interest will soon see tumbleweeds rolling through and not much else. Even educators who figure out how to use the tools for meeting curriculum goals will only ever get students to jump through hoops with these apps -- the needs of the institution and the real goals of students are too different. Stephen's comment is spot-on, and he also links to some further discussion.

Interest Level More Important Than Marks

Not really surprising, but still interesting -- high-school students' level of interest in the sciences is a better predictor of their success in the field later in life than their marks in science courses -- Early education key to scientific career choice:
"The findings suggest that mandatory testing policies, such as the No Child Left Behind Law promoted by the Bush administration as a solution to low-performing US schools, might worsen the nation's output of scientists by distracting teachers from field trips and other activities that stimulate student interest in sciences, Tai said."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Skills For A New Century

Practical and powerful article from Edutopia on project-based learning: New Skills For A New Century. They've also got a whole content section devoted to the topic.

On a related note, Stephen linked to Christopher Sessum's excellent account of visiting a school doing project-based learning. My current interest in this topic stems from my thesis work, which is partly dealing with how people choose interesting projects (through learning goals). What if curriculum wasn't pre-defined and people could choose what (and how) to learn?

Change Happens

A little e-learning industry news: Xap Corporation To Acquire Bridges Transitions (pdf). This is significant for me because Bridges has been my employer here in the Okanagan since 1999, and Xap is a company from California. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Communicating Design Concepts

Just a virtual bookmark for this wise article on communicating design concepts -- these are issues I deal with every week in designing features and sites with prototypes, wireframes, mockups and design documentation...and don't always get it right.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Literature Review in Informal Learning

I still need to dig further into Futurelab's literature review in informal learning with technology outside school:
"This review focuses specifically on children's informal learning with technologies outside school. It brings together the existing research in the field to create a map of this digital ecology of education, discussing what we know about which children have access to these technologies, what they are using them for and the implications of this use for learning. Most significantly, however, it summarises the extent to which the research in this area is beginning to raise fundamental questions about how children learn and, consequently, whether we need to re-examine the design of our formal education system."

Flat Classrooms and New Schools

All kinds of big-thinking goodness about self-directed learning models in education:Mostly via Stephen.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Seb's Open Research

I seem to have missed the return of Seb's Open Research a couple of weeks ago, but I'm glad to see it back. In the first volley of excellent posts, I thought his coverage of a conference session by Intuit's Scott Cook was top-notch, digging into innovation, user-focused design, and smart software development.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Social Software and the Co-Creation of Knowledge

Social Software and the Co-Creation of Knowledge is a quick post with a fairly simple question: "If social software supports the notion of individual choice, how does it best serve formal educational environments?" I know there have been examples of creative teachers finding ways to integrate these tools effectively, but I think they're really having to swim upstream, often having to ignore or stretch their curriculum constraints. And I'm glad they are -- in radical moments, I'd just as soon see most teachers chuck the curriculum in favour of guiding students toward the topics and projects that fascinate them most, regardless of the subject area. For that process, social software could become the primary way to learn. Anyway...great discussion in the comments to Christopher Sessum's post, and his follow-up post is excellent as well.