Ed tech is good for kids. Except when it isn’t.

Ed tech is good for kids. Except when it isn’t.

History Tech

Some things just don’t make sense when we first try wrapping our heads around them. The balloon should move backwards like everything else in the car. Working together to solve a problem makes sense. Chilling water at 150 degrees to 32 degrees should be harder to do than chilling water that starts at 75 degrees.

Only it’s not.

How about this one?

  • Ed tech is good for kids. Except when it’s not.

The whole point of History Tech is focused on finding ways to integrate technology into social studies best practices. Ed tech is a good thing. Ed tech can be used to support data collection and analysis, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, communication. It’s a good thing.

Except when it’s not.

Recent research seems to suggest that…

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Posted by on September 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


Making a Database in Moodle

educational research techniques

For those of us who are not tech-savvy, the idea of making a database can sound very intimidating. However, a database is not as mysterious or difficult to create as you may think.

A database is strictly is just an organized way of collecting and storing records. If you ever made a list of your CD or book collection this is in many ways a highly simplified database.

Moodle allows a teacher to create a database to allow students to upload and or share information for whatever purpose. The secret to developing a database is to know what information you want it to store. After this, you just select the fields in Moodle to complete the database.

This post will explain how to develop a database in Moodle based on particular needs. We will make a database that stores information about Asian food.

  1. After logging into Moodle you need to…

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Posted by on September 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


Confessions of a Hair Rebel

I am not black and I am not a woman, so I feel hesitant to comment about the hair protests which have swept through girl’s schools in South Africa over the last year or so. But as a hair rebel when I was at school, I do feel qualified to add some of my own perspectives, not to attempt to co-opt the brave voices of the girls who are asserting their identities through these protests, but to set the current debate against some kind of context. In David Sherwin’s brilliant script for the Lindsay Anderson film IF (1968), a stinging satire of English Public Schools, the headmaster remarks: “So often I’ve noticed that… it’s the hair rebels who step into the breach when there’s a crisis… whether it be a fire in the house… or to sacrifice a week’s holiday… in order to give a party of slum children seven days in the country.”

When I was at school, not an English Public School, I hasten to add, the hair code was simple. Boy’s hair had to be off the collar and off the ears: short back and sides! How much you left on top was what defined you. Hair rebels were those whose hair length endangered both ears and collars and who exploited the lack of clarity about how much of a fringe you were allowed to the maximum. My own reaction to hair codes was shaped by my perception that short hair, linked to the military conscription which faced all white males in South Africa under Apartheid, symbolized Apartheid itself. The Afrikaans phrase min hare baie dae [short hair, many days] indicated how long one still had left to serve in the army!

The 1979 film Hair, of course, established an alternative vision of hirsute freedom, social liberation and the kind of laissez-faire abandon with which I preferred to identify. In the Afros and braids on the front line of the current hair revolt we can discern similar rallying cries against cultural hegemony, and a South Africa which has undergone change, but no real transformation. Containing black hair, policing black hair is, in many schools, still an issue. Let me say that I don’t think it is an issue of racism primarily. Many of the teachers most vocal in condemning some of the extravagantly provocative Afros we see these days are themselves black. Few of the former Model C or private schools actually ban Afros. But the Afro represents a strident call for the recognition for the need for transformation in a society which saw social transformation surrendered in favour of a neo-liberal agenda which allowed South Africa to remain in the good books of the bankers, but saw inequality widen, and the interests of workers in general, and the black working class in particular sacrificed for the rise of a small black elite.

As teachers we need to support, absolutely the rights of students and parents to regulate their hair as they see fit. Reasonable school rules usually reference neatness alone, and I have no problem with that. We need to recognise that hair rebels, while perhaps not so saintly as to rescue babies from burning buildings, are often at the forefront of challenging what is wrong at the roots of our society!

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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized


A Better Learning Experience

Thinking smarter about space to support classroom technology. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Sean Corcorran

CREDIT Steelcase img.jpgAs in every other enterprise, educators have discovered that using new technology to improve results can be a slow and sometimes hit-or-miss process. Educators are hampered as well by a natural divide that separates teachers, who are technology adopters, from students, who are digital natives.

For a number of years, researchers have been visiting classrooms to observe firsthand how middle school teachers to university faculty are negotiating the digital divide. They’re dedicated to learning how to support teachers on their journey to become learning coaches.

We’ve moved from dealing with disciplinary problems to dealing with satisfying students’ enthusiasm to complete their tasks.

Our own observations are influenced by new understandings of learning that show students learn best when they use a range of tools. This research encourages a multi-sensory approach to teaching and learning, something that…

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Posted by on September 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


The schizophrenic Moodle

completely different readings

picasso-portrait of sylvette david~b99_1433

Picture taken from here

Can we separate the way we teach from the technological systems in which we work? This question was posed by Maha Bali and Jim Groom in a thought-provoking post critically examining the ethos of educational technologies. Maha and Jim argue that the choices we make in educational technology say something about our values and pedagogical visions–they are inseparable from how we go about teaching and learning.

Couldn’t agree more. When I was teaching online classes in Learning Technologies at the University of Minnesota most faculty and graduate instructors were using Ning as an alternative to Moodle (institutionally supported) because its design better aligned with the values of the program. In Aaron Doering’s words, the goal in LT courses was “for students to discover and create knowledge as a group, with the instructor acting as a guide through the assigned materials” and Ning was a…

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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized


Disciplining educational technology

Bryan Alexander

Georgetown stairs Always a treat to visit the Exorcist stairs, which are adjacent to the CNDLS building.

Earlier this month I met with several dozen people at Georgetown University to discuss an unusual question: should educational technology become an academic discipline?  Carl Straumsheim wrote up a fine account, not to mention the bits where he interviewed me.

The meeting raised some rich questions, and the main topic is quite stimulating, so I wanted to share various thoughts.

Some background:

The meeting was premised on a sense of recent education and technology history.  Organizers noted that the past few years have seen serious growth in online learning, combined with a new look at redesigning digital pedagogy, on top of recent concerns about the quality of undergrad education.  The meeting also drew on the recent MIT report about online learning, specifically its call for connecting the emergent science of learning to pedagogical…

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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


C.P. Snow keeps getting more right: Why everyone needs to learn about algorithms #CS4All

Computing Education Blog

When I give talks about teaching computer to everyone, I often start with Alan Perlis and C.P. Snow in 1961. They made the first two public arguments for teaching computer science to everyone in higher education.  Alan Perlis’s talk was the most up-beat, talking about all the great things we can think about and do with computer.  He offered the carrot.  C.P. Snow offered the stick.

C.P. Snow foresaw that algorithms were going to run our world, and people would be creating those algorithms without oversight by the people whose lives would be controlled by them. Those who don’t understand algorithms don’t know how to challenge them, to ask about them, to fight back against them. Quoting from Martin Greenberger’s edited volume, Computers and the World of the Future (MIT Press, 1962), we hear from Snow:

Decisions which are going to affect a great deal of our…

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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

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