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robertogreco : textbooks   71

Why books don’t work | Andy Matuschak
"Books are easy to take for granted. Not any specific book, I mean: the form of a book. Paper or pixels—it hardly matters. Words in lines on pages in chapters. And at least for non-fiction books, one implied assumption at the foundation: people absorb knowledge by reading sentences. This last idea so invisibly defines the medium that it’s hard not to take for granted, which is a shame because, as we’ll see, it’s quite mistaken.

Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? I’ll be honest: it happens to me regularly. Often things go well at first. I’ll feel I can sketch the basic claims, paint the surface; but when someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.

I know I’m not alone here. When I share this observation with others—even others, like myself, who take learning seriously—it seems that everyone has had a similar experience. The conversation often feels confessional: there’s some bashfulness, almost as if these lapses reveal some unusual character flaw. I don’t think it’s a character flaw, but whatever it is, it’s certainly not unusual. In fact, I suspect this is the default experience for most readers. The situation only feels embarrassing because it’s hard to see how common it is.

Now, the books I named aren’t small investments. Each takes around 6–9 hours to read. Adult American college graduates read 24 minutes a day on average, so a typical reader might spend much of a month with one of these books. Millions of people have read each of these books, so that’s tens of millions of hours spent. In exchange for all that time, how much knowledge was absorbed? How many people absorbed most of the knowledge the author intended to convey? Or even just what they intended to acquire? I suspect it’s a small minority Unfortunately, my literature reviews have turned up no formal studies of this question, so I can only appeal to your intuition..

I’m not suggesting that all those hours were wasted. Many readers enjoyed reading those books. That’s wonderful! Certainly most readers absorbed something, however ineffable: points of view, ways of thinking, norms, inspiration, and so on. Indeed, for many books (and in particular most fiction), these effects are the point.

This essay is not about that kind of book. It’s about explanatory non-fiction like the books I mentioned above, which aim to convey detailed knowledge. Some people may have read Thinking, Fast and Slow for entertainment value, but in exchange for their tens of millions of collective hours, I suspect many readers—or maybe even most readers—expected to walk away with more. Why else would we feel so startled when we notice how little we’ve absorbed from something we’ve read?

All this suggests a peculiar conclusion: as a medium, books are surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge, and readers mostly don’t realize it.

The conclusion is peculiar, in part, because books are shockingly powerful knowledge-carrying artifacts! In the Cosmos episode, “The Persistence of Memory,” Carl Sagan exalts:

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
Indeed: books are magical! Human progress in the era of mass communication makes clear that some readers really do absorb deep knowledge from books, at least some of the time. So why do books seem to work for some people sometimes? Why does the medium fail when it fails?

In these brief notes, we’ll explore why books so often don’t work, and why they succeed when they do.Let’s get it out of the way: I’m aware of the irony here, using the written medium to critique the written medium! But if the ideas I describe here prove successful, then future notes on this subject won’t have that problem. This note is mere kindling, and I’ll be very happy if it’s fully consumed by the blaze it ignites. Armed with that understanding, we’ll glimpse not only how we might improve books as a medium, but also how we might weave unfamiliar new forms—not from paper, and not from pixels, but from insights about human cognition."



"Why lectures don’t work"



"Why books don’t work"



"What about textbooks?"



"What to do about it

How might we make books actually work reliably? At this point, the slope before us might feel awfully steep. Some early footholds might be visible—a few possible improvements to books, or tools one might make to assist readers—but it’s not at all clear how to reach the summit. In the face of such a puzzle, it’s worth asking: are we climbing the right hill? Why are we climbing this particular hill at all?

I argued earlier that books, as a medium, weren’t built around any explicit model of how people learn. It’s possible that, in spite of this “original sin,” iterative improvements to the form, along with new tools to support readers, can make books much more reliable. But it’s also possible that we’ll never discover the insights we need while tethered to the patterns of thought implicit in this medium.

Instead, I propose: we don’t necessarily have to make books work. We can make new forms instead. This doesn’t have to mean abandoning narrative prose; it doesn’t even necessarily mean abandoning paper—rather, we can free our thinking by abandoning our preconceptions of what a book is. Maybe once we’ve done all this, we’ll have arrived at something which does indeed look much like a book. We’ll have found a gentle path around the back of that intimidating slope. Or maybe we’ll end up in different terrain altogether.

So let’s reframe the question. Rather than “how might we make books actually work reliably,” we can ask: How might we design mediums which do the job of a non-fiction book—but which actually work reliably?

I’m afraid that’s a research question—probably for several lifetimes of research—not something I can directly answer in these brief notes. But I believe it’s possible, and I’ll now try to share why.

To begin, it’s important to see that mediums can be designed, not just inherited. What’s more: it is possible to design new mediums which embody specific ideas. Inventors have long drawn on this unintuitive insightSee e.g. Douglas Engelbart’s 1962 “Augmenting Human Intellect” for a classic primary source or Michael Nielsen’s 2016 “Thought as a Technology” for a synthesis of much work in this space., but I’ll briefly review it in case it’s unfamiliar. Mathematical proofs are a medium; the step-by-step structure embodies powerful ideas about formal logic. Snapchat Stories are a medium; the ephemerality embodies powerful ideas about emotion and identity. The World Wide Web is a medium (or perhaps many mediums); the pervasive hyperlinks embody powerful ideas about the associative nature of knowledge.

Perhaps most remarkably, the powerful ideas are often invisible: it’s not like we generally think about cognition when we sprinkle a blog post with links. But the people who created the Web were thinking about cognition. They designed its building blocks so that the natural way of reading and writing in this medium would reflect the powerful ideas they had in mind. Shaped intentionally or not, each medium’s fundamental materials and constraints give it a “grain” which make it bend naturally in some directions and not in others.

This “grain” is what drives me when I gripe that books lack a functioning cognitive model. It’s not just that it’s possible to create a medium informed by certain ideas in cognitive science. Rather, it’s possible to weave a medium made out of those ideas, in which a reader’s thoughts and actions are inexorably—perhaps even invisibly—shaped by those ideas. Mathematical proofs, as a medium, don’t just consider ideas about logic; we don’t attach ideas about logic to proofs. The form is made out of ideas about logic.

How might we design a medium so that its “grain” bends in line with how people think and learn? So that by simply engaging with an author’s work in the medium—engaging in the obvious fashion; engaging in this medium’s equivalent of books’ “read all the words on the first page, then repeat with the next, and so on”—one would automatically do what’s necessary to understand? So that, in some deep way, the default actions and patterns of thought when engaging with this medium are the same thing as “what’s necessary to understand”?

That’s a tall order. Even on a theoretical level, it’s not clear what’s necessary for understanding. Indeed, that framing’s too narrow: there are many paths to understanding a topic. But cognitive scientists and educators have mapped some parts of this space, and they’ve distilled some powerful ideas we can use as a starting point.

For example, people struggle to absorb new material when their working memory is already overloaded. More concretely: if you’ve just been introduced to a zoo of new terms, you … [more]
books  learning  howwelearn  text  textbooks  andymatuschak  2019  canon  memory  understanding  lectures  cognition  cognitivescience  web  internet  howweread  howwewrite  reading  writing  comprehension  workingmemory  michaelnielsen  quantumcountry  education  unschooling  deschooling 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Library is Open: Keynote for the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference – actualham
"So I am trying to think about ways in. Ways in to places. Ways in to places that don’t eschew the complexity of their histories and how those histories inflect the different ways the places are experienced. I am thinking that helping learners see how places are made and remade, and helping them see that every interpretation they draw up–of their places and the places that refuse to be theirs– remake those places every hour.

This for me, is at the heart of open education.

Open to the past.

Open to the place.

Open at the seams.

Open to the public.

PUBLIC

So there is our final word, “PUBLIC.” You know, it’s not that easy to find out what a public library is. I googled it in preparation for this talk. It’s like a public museum. It might be open to the public, but does that make it public? But you know, it’s not that easy to find out what what a public university is. For example, mine. Which is in New Hampshire, the state which is proudly 50th in the nation for public funding of higher education. My college is about 9% state funded. Is that a public institution?

I think we may be starting backwards if we try to think of “public” in terms of funding. We need to think of public in terms of a relationship between the institution and the public (and the public good) and the economics of these relationships can be (will be! should be!) reflective of those relationships, rather than generative of them. What is the relationship of a public library or university– or a public university library– to the public? And could that relationship be the same for any college library regardless of whether the college is public or private?

Publics are places, situated in space and time but never pinned or frozen to either. Publics are the connective tissue between people, and as Noble points out, corporate interest in the web has attempted to co-opt that tissue and privatize our publics. A similar interest in education has attempted to do the same with our learning channels. Libraries exist in a critical proximity to the internet and to learning. But because they are places, that proximity flows through the people who make and remake the library by using (or not using) it. This is not a transcendent or romantic view of libraries. Recent work by folks like Sam Popowich and Fobazi Ettarh remind us that vocational awe is misguided, because libraries, like humans and the communities they bounce around in, are not inherently good or sacred. But this is not a critique of libraries. Or in other words, these messy seams where things fall apart, this is the strength of libraries because libraries are not everywhere; they are here.

I know this is an awful lot of abstraction wrapped up in some poetry and some deflection. So let me try to find some concrete practice-oriented ideas to leave you with.

You know textbooks cost way, way too much, and lots of that money goes to commercial publishers.

Textbook costs are not incidental to the real cost of college. We can fix this problem by weaning off commercial textbooks and adopting Open Educational Resources. OER also lets us rethink the relationship between learners and learning materials; the open license lets us understand knowledge as something that is continually reshaped as new perspectives are introduced into the field.

We can engage in open pedagogical practices to highlight students as contributors to the world of knowledge, and to shape a knowledge commons that is a healthier ecosystem for learning than a system that commercializes, paywalls, or gates knowledge. And all of this is related to other wrap-around services that students need in order to be successful (childcare, transportation, food, etc), and all of that is related to labor markets, and all of that is related to whether students should be training for or transforming those markets.

As we focus on broadening access to knowledge and access to knowledge creation, we can think about the broader implications for open learning ecosystems.

What kind of academic publishing channels do we need to assure quality and transparent peer review and open access to research by other researchers and by the public at large? What kinds of tools and platforms and expertise do we need to share course materials and research, and who should pay for them and host them and make them available? What kind of centralized standards do we need for interoperability and search and retrieval, and what kind of decentralization must remain in order to allow communities to expand in organic ways?

I’d like to see academic libraries stand up and be proud to be tied to contexts and particulars. I’d like to see them care about the material conditions that shape the communities that surround and infuse them. I’d like them to own the racism and other oppressive systems and structures that infuse their own histories and practices, and model inclusive priorities that center marginalized voices. I’d like them to insist that human need is paramount. Humans need to know, learn, share, revise. I’d like them to focus on sustainability rather than growth; the first is a community-based term, the second is a market-based term. Libraries work for people, and that should make them a public good. A public resource. This is not about how we are funded; it is about how we are founded and refounded.

Helping your faculty move to OER is not about cost-savings. You all know there are much easier ways to save money. They are just really crappy for learning. Moving to OER is about committing to learning environments that respect the realities of place, that engage with the contexts for learning, that challenge barriers that try to co-opt public channels for private gain, and that see learning as a fundamentally infinite process that benefits from human interaction. Sure, technology helps us do some of that better, and technology is central to OER. But technology also sabotages a lot of our human connections: infiltrates them with impersonating bots; manipulates and monetizes them for corporate gain; subverts them for agendas that undercut the network’s transparency; skews the flow toward the privileged and cuts away the margins inhabited by the nondominant voices– the perspectives that urge change, improvement, growth, paradigm shift. So it’s not the technology, just like it’s not the cost-savings, that matters. It’s not the new furniture or the Starbucks that makes your library the place to be. It’s the public that matters. It is a place for that public to be.

Libraries are places. Libraries, especially academic libraries, are public places. They should be open for the public. Help your faculty understand open in all its complexity. Help them understand the people that make your place. Help your place shape itself around the humans who need it.:
open  libraries  access  openaccess  2018  oer  publishing  knowledge  textbooks  college  universities  robinderosa  place  past  present  future  web  internet  online  learning  howwelearn  education  highered  highereducation  joemurphy  nextgen  safiyaumojanoble  deomcracyb  inequality  donnalanclos  davidlewis  racism  algorithms  ralphwaldoemerson  thoreau  control  power  equality  accessibility 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Immersive Math
"The world's first linear algebra book with fully interactive figures."
linearalgebra  textbooks  free  math  mathematics 
may 2018 by robertogreco
High-Impact Actions
"What can one person in a developed country do about climate change?

Seth Wynes, who finished his master's degree in my lab in June 2015, set out to answer this question in his thesis.

Our key takeaway: 4 personal choices really matter for the climate, and the climate really matters for one of them."

[See also:
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/7/14/15963544/climate-change-individual-choices
https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.html

"Governments and schools are not communicating the most effective ways for individuals to reduce their carbon footprints, according to new research.

Published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study from Lund University, found that the incremental changes advocated by governments may represent a missed opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beneath the levels needed to prevent 2°C of climate warming.

The four actions that most substantially decrease an individual's carbon footprint are: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car-free, and having smaller families.

The research analysed 39 peer reviewed papers, carbon calculators, and government reports to calculate the potential of a range of individual lifestyle choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This comprehensive analysis identifies the actions individuals could take that will have the greatest impact on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Lead author Seth Wynes said: "There are so many factors that affect the climate impact of personal choices, but bringing all these studies side-by-side gives us confidence we've identified actions that make a big difference. Those of us who want to step forward on climate need to know how our actions can have the greatest possible impact. This research is about helping people make more informed choices.

"We found there are four actions that could result in substantial decreases in an individual's carbon footprint: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car free, and having smaller families. For example, living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

"These actions, therefore, have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling (which is 4 times less effective than a plant-based diet) or changing household lightbulbs (8 times less effective)."

The researchers also found that neither Canadian school textbooks nor government resources from the EU, USA, Canada and Australia highlight these actions, instead focussing on incremental changes with much smaller potential to reduce emissions.

Study co-author Kimberly Nicholas said: "We recognize these are deeply personal choices. But we can't ignore the climate effect our lifestyle actually has. Personally, I've found it really positive to make many of these changes. It's especially important for young people establishing lifelong patterns to be aware which choices have the biggest impact. We hope this information sparks discussion and empowers individuals," she concluded."]
classideas  climatechange  personalimpact  sethwynes  2015  2017  textbooks  education  schools  curriculum  canada  us  australia  eu  emissions 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Elinor Ostrom on the complexity of our current societal landscape - YouTube
"2009 Nobel laureate in economics Elinor Ostrom briefly describes the complexity of current social, political and economic systems, and stresses the importance of collaboration across traditional borders to solve resource problems."
elinorostrom  complexity  textbooks  interdisciplinary  systemsthinking  society  entrepreneurship  economics 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Neil Postman & Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a...
"The game is called “Let’s Pretend,” and if its name were chiseled into the front of every school building in America, we would at least have an honest announcement of what takes place there. The game is based on a series of pretenses which include: Let’s pretend that you are not what you are and that this sort of work makes a difference to your lives; let’s pretend that what bores you is important, and that the more you are bored, the more important it is; let’s pretend that there are certain things everyone must know, and that both the questions and answers about them have been fixed for all time; let’s pretend that your intellectual competence can be judged on the basis of how well you can play Let’s Pretend."



"Almost any sensible parent knows this, as does any effective top sergeant. It is not what you say to people that counts; it is what you have them do…. What students do in the classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom’s message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly, they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true."



"A syllabus not only prescribes what story lines you must learn…. It also prescribes the order in which your skills must be learned."



"The good teacher “regards learning as a process, not a terminal event… he assumes that one is always in the process of acquiring skills, assimilating new information, formulating or refining generalizations.”"

[See also Matt Thomas's Neil Postman posts (linked within):
https://submittedforyourperusal.com/tag/neil-postman/ ]
austinkleon  neilpostman  charleswingartner  teaching  education  teachingasasubversiveactivity  2016  1969  crapdetection  hemingway  criticalthinking  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  alanwatts  linear  linearity  nonlinear  textbooks  tests  testing  non-linear  alinear 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Formal Schooling and the Death of Literacy — Medium
"My privilege is easily identified in my being white and male, but it is the story of my life that better reveals my enormous privilege established by my mother when I was a child.

I entered formal schooling with such a relatively high level of literacy and numeracy that from those first days I was labeled “smart” — a misnomer for that privilege.

From Green Eggs and Ham to Hop on Pop, from canasta to spades, from Chinese checkers to Scrabble — games with my mother and often my father were my schooling until I entered first grade. And none of that ever seemed to be a chore, and none of that involved worksheets, reading levels, or tests.

Formal schooling was always easy for me because of those roots, but formal schooling was also often tedious and so much that had to be tolerated to do the things I truly enjoyed — such as collecting, reading, and drawing from thousands of comic books throughout my middle and late teens. I was also voraciously reading science fiction and never once highlighting the literary techniques or identifying the themes or tone.

During my spring semester, I spend a great deal of time observing pre-service English/ELA teachers, and recently I had an exchange on Twitter about the dangers of grade retention, notably connected to third-grade high-stakes testing.

And from those, I have been musing more than usual about how formal school — how English/ELA teachers specifically — destroy literacy, even when we have the best of intentions.

From the first years of K-3 until the last years of high school, students have their experiences of literacy murdered by a blind faith in and complete abdication to labeling text by grade levels and narrow approaches to literary analysis grounded in New Criticism and what I call the “literary technique hunt.”

Misreading the Importance of Third-Grade Reading

As I have addressed often, reading legislation across the U.S. is trapped in a simplistic crisis mode connected to research identifying the strong correlation between so-called third-grade reading proficiency and later academic success.

Let’s unpack that by addressing the embedded claims that rarely see the light of day.

The first claim is that labeling a text as a grade level is as valid as assigning a number appears. While it is quite easy to identify a text by grade level (most simply calculate measurables such as syllables per word and words per sentence), those calculations entirely gloss over the relationship between counting word/ sentence elements and how a human draws meaning from text — key issues such as prior knowledge and literal versus figurative language.

A key question, then, is asking in whose interest is this cult of measuring reading levels — and the answer is definitely not the student.

This technocratic approach to literacy can facilitate a certain level of efficiency and veneer of objectivity for the work of a teacher; it is certainly less messy.

But the real reason the cult of measuring reading levels exists is the needs of textbook companies who both create and perpetuate the need for measuring students’ reading levels and matching that to the products they sell.

Reading levels are a market metric that are harmful to both students and teaching/learning. And they aren’t even very good metrics in terms of how well the levels match any semblance of reading or learning to read.

The fact is that all humans are at some level of literacy and can benefit from structured purposeful instruction to develop that level of literacy. In that respect, everyone is remedial and no one is proficient.

Those facts, however, do not match well the teaching and learning industry that is the textbook scam that drains our formal schools of funding better used elsewhere — almost anywhere else.

Remaining shackled to measuring and labeling text and students murders literacy among our students; it is inexcusable, and is a root cause of the punitive reading policies grounded in high-stakes testing and grade retention.

The Literary Technique Hunt

By middle and high school — although we continue to focus on whether or not students are reading at grade level — we gradually shift our approach to text away from labeling students/ texts and toward training students in the subtle allure of literary analysis: mining text for technique.

Like reading levels, New Criticism’s focus on text in isolation and authoritative meaning culled from calculating how techniques produce a fixed meaning benefits from the veneer of objectivity, lending itself to selected-response testing.

And thus, the great technique hunt, again, benefits not students, but teachers and the inseparable textbook and testing industries.

The literary technique hunt, however, slices the throat of everything that matters about text — best represented by Flannery O’Connor:
I prefer to talk about the meaning in a story rather than the theme of a story. People talk about the theme of a story as if the theme were like the string that a sack of chicken feed is tied with. They think that if you can pick out the theme, the way you pick the right thread in the chicken-feed sack, you can rip the story open and feed the chickens. But this is not the way meaning works in fiction.

When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very good one. The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning, and the purpose of making statements about the meaning of a story is only to help you experience that meaning more fully.

In other words, “A poem should not mean/But be,” as Archibald MacLeish explains.

Texts of all genres and forms are about human expression, about the aesthetic possibilities of creativity.

No writer, like no visual artist, writes in order to have the words or artwork replaced by the reductive act of a technocratic calculating of meaning through the algebra of New Criticism.

To continue the hokum that is “reading level” and to continue mining text for techniques — these are murderous practices that leave literacy moribund and students uninspired and verbally bankrupt.

The very best and most effective literacy instruction requires no textbooks, no programs, and no punitive reading policies.

Literacy is an ever-evolving human facility; it grows from reading, being read to, and writing — all by choice, with passion, and in the presence of others more dexterous than you are.

Access to authentic text, a community or readers and writers, and a literacy mentor — these are where our time and funds should be spent instead of the cult of efficiency being sold by textbook and testing companies."
paulthomas  liteacy  reading  education  technocracy  flanneryo'connor  archibaldmacleish  readinglevels  schools  schooling  schooliness  thirdgrade  textbooks  metrics  measurement  literaryanalysis  plthomas 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Garden and the Stream: A Technopastoral | Hapgood
[Brought back to my attention thanks to Allen:
"@rogre Read this and thought of you and your bookmarks & tumblr:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/720121133102710784 ]

[See also:
https://hapgood.us/2014/06/04/smallest-federated-wiki-as-an-alternate-vision-of-the-web/
https://hapgood.us/2014/11/06/federated-education-new-directions-in-digital-collaboration/
https://hapgood.us/2015/01/08/the-fedwiki-user-innovation-toolkit/
https://hapgood.us/2016/03/03/pre-stocking-the-library/
https://hapgood.us/2016/03/04/bring-your-bookmarks-into-the-hypertext-age/
https://hapgood.us/2016/03/26/intentionally-finding-knowledge-gaps/
https://hapgood.us/2016/04/09/answer-to-leigh-blackall/
http://rainystreets.wikity.cc/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gi9SRsRrE4

https://github.com/federated-wiki
http://fed.wiki.org/
http://journal.hapgood.net/view/federated-wiki
http://wikity.net/
http://wikity.net/?p=link-word&s=journal.hapgood.net ]

"The Garden is an old metaphor associated with hypertext. Those familiar with the history will recognize this. The Garden of Forking Paths from the mid-20th century. The concept of the Wiki Gardener from the 1990s. Mark Bernstein’s 1998 essay Hypertext Gardens.

The Garden is the web as topology. The web as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another.

Things in the Garden don’t collapse to a single set of relations or canonical sequence, and that’s part of what we mean when we say “the web as topology” or the “web as space”. Every walk through the garden creates new paths, new meanings, and when we add things to the garden we add them in a way that allows many future, unpredicted relationships

We can see this here in this collage of photos of a bridge in Portland’s Japanese Garden. I don’t know if you can see this, but this is the same bridge from different views at different times of year.

The bridge is a bridge is a bridge — a defined thing with given boundaries and a stated purpose. But the multi-linear nature of the garden means that there is no one right view of the bridge, no one correct approach. The architect creates the bridge, but it is the visitors to the park which create the bridge’s meaning. A good bridge supports many approaches, many views, many seasons, maybe many uses, and the meaning of that bridge will even evolve for the architect over time.

In the Garden, to ask what happened first is trivial at best. The question “Did the bridge come after these trees” in a well-designed garden is meaningless historical trivia. The bridge doesn’t reply to the trees or the trees to the bridge. They are related to one another in a relatively timeless way.

This is true of everything in the garden. Each flower, tree, and vine is seen in relation to the whole by the gardener so that the visitors can have unique yet coherent experiences as they find their own paths through the garden. We create the garden as a sort of experience generator, capable of infinite expression and meaning.

The Garden is what I was doing in the wiki as I added the Gun Control articles, building out a network of often conflicting information into a web that can generate insights, iterating it, allowing that to grow into something bigger than a single event, a single narrative, or single meaning.

The Stream is a newer metaphor with old roots. We can think of the”event stream” of programming, the “lifestream” proposed by researchers in the 1990s. More recently, the term stream has been applied to the never ending parade of twitter, news alerts, and Facebook feeds.

In the stream metaphor you don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it, or following it to its end. You jump in and let it flow past. You feel the force of it hit you as things float by.

It’s not that you are passive in the Stream. You can be active. But your actions in there — your blog posts, @ mentions, forum comments — exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative.

In other words, the Stream replaces topology with serialization. Rather than imagine a timeless world of connection and multiple paths, the Stream presents us with a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center.

In many ways the Stream is best seen through the lens of Bakhtin’s idea of the utterance. Bakhtin saw the utterance, the conversational turn of speech, as inextricably tied to context. To understand a statement you must go back to things before, you must find out what it was replying to, you must know the person who wrote it and their speech context. To understand your statement I must reconstruct your entire stream.

And of course since I can’t do that for random utterances, I mostly just stay in the streams I know. If the Garden is exposition, the stream is conversation and rhetoric, for better and worse.

You see this most clearly in things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But it’s also the notifications panel of your smartphone, it’s also email, it’s also to a large extent blogging. Frankly, it’s everything now.

Whereas the garden is integrative, the Stream is self-assertive. It’s persuasion, it’s argument, it’s advocacy. It’s personal and personalized and immediate. It’s invigorating. And as we may see in a minute it’s also profoundly unsuited to some of the uses we put it to.

The stream is what I do on Twitter and blogging platforms. I take a fact and project it out as another brick in an argument or narrative or persona that I build over time, and recapitulate instead of iterate."



"So what’s the big picture here? Why am I so obsessed with the integrative garden over the personal and self-assertive stream? Blogs killed hypertext — but who cares, Mike?

I think we’ve been stuck in some unuseful binaries over the past years. Or perhaps binaries that have outlived their use.

So what I’m asking you all to do is put aside your favorite binaries for a moment and try out the garden vs. the stream. All binaries are fictions of course, but I think you’ll find the garden vs. the stream is a particularly useful fiction for our present moment.

OER

Let’s start with OER. I’ve been involved with Open Educational Resources many years, and I have to say that I’m shocked and amazed that we still struggle to find materials.

We announced an open textbook initiative at my school the other day, and one of the first people to email me said she taught State and Local Government and she’d love to ditch the textbook.

So I go look for a textbook on State and Local Government. Doesn’t exist. So I grab the syllabus and look at what sorts of things need explaining.

It’s stuff like influence of local subsidies on development. Now if you Google that term, how many sites in the top 50 will you find just offering a clear and balanced treatment of what it is, what the recent trends are with it, and what seems to be driving the trends?

The answer is none. The closest you’ll find is an article from something called the Encyclopedia of Earth which talks about the environmental economics of local energy subsidies.

Everything else is either journal articles or blog posts making an argument about local subsidies. Replying to someone. Building rapport with their audience. Making a specific point about a specific policy. Embedded in specific conversations, specific contexts.

Everybody wants to play in the Stream, but no one wants to build the Garden.

Our traditional binary here is “open vs. closed”. But honestly that’s not the most interesting question to me anymore. I know why textbook companies are closed. They want to make money.

What is harder to understand is how in nearly 25 years of the web, when people have told us what they THINK about local subsidies approximately one kajillion times we can’t find one — ONE! — syllabus-ready treatment of the issue.

You want ethics of networked knowledge? Think about that for a minute — how much time we’ve all spent arguing, promoting our ideas, and how little time we’ve spent contributing to the general pool of knowledge.

Why? Because we’re infatuated with the stream, infatuated with our own voice, with the argument we’re in, the point we’re trying to make, the people in our circle we’re talking to.

People say, well yes, but Wikipedia! Look at Wikipedia!

Yes, let’s talk about Wikipedia. There’s a billion people posting what they think about crap on Facebook.

There’s about 31,000 active wikipedians that hold English Wikipedia together. That’s about the population of Stanford University, students, faculty and staff combined, for the entire English speaking world.

We should be ashamed. We really should."



"And so we come to the question of whether we are at a turning point. Do we see a rebirth of garden technologies in the present day? That’s always a tough call, asking an activist like me to provide a forecast of the future. But let me respond while trying not to slip into wishful analysis.

I think maybe we’re starting to see a shift. In 2015, out of nowhere, we saw web annotation break into the mainstream. This is a garden technology that has risen and fallen so many times, and suddenly people just get it. Suddenly web annotation, which used to be hard to explain, makes sense to people. When that sort of thing happens culturally it’s worth looking closely at.

Github has taught a generation of programmers that copies are good, not bad, and as we noted, it’s copies that are essential to the Garden.

The Wikimedia Education project has been convincing teachers there’s a life beyond student blogging.

David Wiley has outlined a scheme whereby students could create the textbooks of the future, and you can imagine that rather than create discrete textbooks we could engage students in building a grand web of knowledge that could, like Bush’s trails, be reconfigured and duplicated to serve specific classes … [more]
mikecaufield  federatedwiki  web  hypertext  oer  education  edtech  technology  learning  vannevarbush  katebowles  davecormier  wikipedia  memex  dynabook  davidwiley  textbooks  streams  gardens  internet  cv  curation  online  open  dlrn2015  canon  wikis  markbernstein  networks  collaboration  narrative  serialization  context  tumblr  facebook  twitter  pinboard  instagram  blogs  blogging  networkedknowledge  google  search  github  wardcunningham  mikhailbakhtin  ethics  bookmarks  bookmarking 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues 'End Of Average' : NPR Ed : NPR
"Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He's also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a new organization devoted to "the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society."

In other words, Todd Rose is not your average guy. But neither are you.

In fact, he argues, absolutely no one is precisely average. And that's a big problem, he tells NPR Ed: "We've come to embrace a way of thinking about ourselves as people that was intentionally designed to ignore all individuality and force everything in reference to an average person."

Admissions offices, HR departments, banks and doctors make life-changing decisions based on averages. Rose says that "works really well to understand the system or the group, but it fails miserably when you need to understand the individual, which is what we need to do."

Rose talked with us about his new book: The End Of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.

Q: The opening example you use in the book is that in the 1940s, when the Air Force designed cockpits based on the average measurements of the pilots, there were an unacceptable number of crashes. But when they went back and measured thousands of pilots, across 10 body dimensions, they found that zero of them even came close to the "average" on all 10. So they concluded that they had to redesign the seats and so forth to be adjustable to each person.

A: Body size is a very concrete example of what I call jaggedness. There is no average pilot. No medium-sized people. When you think of someone's size you think of large, medium, small. Our mass-produced approach to clothing reinforces that. But if that were true you wouldn't need dressing rooms.

Q: So dimensions like height and weight and arm length and waist circumference ...

A: Yes, they're not nearly as correlated as you would think. Height is one-dimensional, but size isn't. People are jagged in size, in intelligence, everything we measure shows the same thing.

Q: I'm going to quote a line from the book, said to psychologist Paul Molenaar, who is arguing for a greater focus on individual difference: "What you are proposing is anarchy!" How do you make decisions about people if you can't use statistics and cutoff scores and compare them to averages?

A: People feel like if you focus on individuality, everyone's a snowflake, and you can't build a science on snowflakes. But the opposite has been true.

It's not that you can't use statistics, it's just that you don't use group statistics. If I want to know something about my daily spending habits, one straightforward way would be to collect records of what I spend every day. To take an average for myself would be perfectly fine.

Q: So you can generalize across time, but not across people?

A: We've got to let go of putting a group into a study and taking an average and thinking that's going to be close enough to universal insight.

Now we have something better. We have a natural science of individuality that gives us a surer foundation. We've gotten breakthrough insights in a whole range of research, from cancer to child development.

Q: How does what you term "Averagerianism" impact our school system both historically and today?

A: It's so ubiquitous that it's hard to see.

We design textbooks to be age-appropriate, but that means, what does the average kid of this age know and can do? Textbooks that are designed for the average will be a pretty bad fit for most kids.

Then you think of things like the lockstep, grade-based organization of kids, and you end up sitting in a class for a fixed amount of time and get a one-dimensional rating in the form of a grade, and a one-dimensional standardized assessment. It's everything about the way we test and move kids forward.

Q: With standardized tests, I often hear teachers talking about students being two months behind or ahead, as if there's a very fixed timeline for progress that all human beings should fit.

A: It feels comforting. But if you take the basic idea of jaggedness, if all kids are multidimensional in their talent, their aptitude, you can't reduce them to a single score. It gives us a false sense of precision and gives up on pretending to know anything about these kids.

Q: So alongside jaggedness, two other principles of individual variation you look at are "context-dependence" and "pathways." Talk about those.

A: It's meaningless to talk about behavior and performance without context. Let's take assessment. Carnegie Mellon [University] had this work showing that changing the way a question is asked can fundamentally alter how a kid performs. So if the [math] problem is about football players instead of ballerinas, you can't standardize on the item. That systematically affects the kids' ability to demonstrate what they know.

But at a macro level, I think [context] introduces an attention to things like the impact of stress and trauma.

Q: And what about pathways? This sounds a lot like the talk around personalizing learning using technology and allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace.

A: I think people who care about personalized learning talk about it as: If we just collect more data, we're going to have this personalization. And that's not clear to me at all.

I think when you look at the idea of pace, we are so convinced that slow means dumb and fast means smart. We feel justified in pegging the time to how fast the average person takes to finish.

But this is where, with a better understanding of this and realizing, "Oh, pace really has nothing to do with ability, people are fast at some things and slow with others," you would build a very different system than the one we have.

Q: Do you think the school system acknowledges the need to treat students as individuals?

A: Two years ago I would have said no. But my colleague Paul Reville, who used to be secretary of education in Massachusetts, he's rethinking the architecture of school systems. In most states, people have put on the books goals about meeting every kid where they're at. Even the "Every Student Succeeds" [ESSA, the new federal law] approach is based on the assumption that we're meeting each kid where they're at, to give them what they need to be successful.

But we haven't thought through the system design that needs to be in place to do that.

We're trying to have a system to do what it was never designed to do.

Q: What about in higher education?

A: In higher ed we have a brutally standardized system. It doesn't matter what your interests are, what job you want, everyone takes the same courses in roughly the same time and at the end of the course you get ranked.

This is personal for me. I have two kids in college. The idea that someone is going to click a stopwatch, compare you to other kids in your class, and the kids with the best grades can get the best jobs, that's not a good deal. I want my two boys to figure out what they love and what they're good at and be exposed to things and be able to turn that into a job.

Q: You talk about innovations that are starting to catch on, like competency-based education and credentialing — basically, accommodating different pathways and different balances of strengths and weakness.

A: There's plenty of ways we're making smaller units of learning to combine in ways that are useful to you. To me, competency based education is nonnegotiable. I don't think you can have fixed-time, grade-based learning anymore. I don't see how you justify diplomas.

It doesn't mean students can take forever, but allowing some flexibility in pace and only caring whether they master the material or not is a sound foundation for a higher ed system.

There are so many examples of a lot of really interesting universities trying these things.

Q: Yes, reading this book it struck me that in some quarters, it seems like we've already moved forward to a focus on individuality, innovation, creativity. You talk about how companies like Google are finding that GPA or school prestige or even ranking employees against each other is not useful, and instead they need to create, essentially, performance-based assessments for doing tasks in context.

A: There are bright spots where you can see the principles of individuality at work.

So for me it comes back to, well, wait a minute. So why is that not the mainstream?

What I think my contribution is, is to say: Our institutions are based on assumptions about human beings. Our education system is based on a 19th century idea of an average person and using 20th century statistics.

As long as people think you can understand people based on averages, or how they deviate from averages, it seems reasonable. It looks like accountability and fairness rather than absurdity.

Q: And you're trying to show that there's an alternative?

A: If we don't get rid of this way of thinking about ourselves and the people around us, it's hard to get the public demand to create sustainable change. That's the role that I and my organization want to play. We're making a really big bet."
anyakamenetz  toddrose  standards  grades  grading  averages  education  howweteach  schools  admissions  tests  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  sameness  paulmolenaar  textbooks  behavior  performance  individuality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Rebus Open Web Textbooks
"What Are We Doing?
Rebus simplifies the creation, distribution, collection and deep reading of web-based Open Textbooks.

How Are We Doing That?
Rebus works with a global network of universities, professors and students to publish textbooks in an open and collaborative publishing model.

Rebus textbooks are Open Webbooks which embrace the structures and expectations we have of books, and add the power of the Open Web.

Why Are We Doing It?
Books and textbooks are central tools in our intellectual lives. They are, literally, the documentation of human knowledge and experience. Rebus is building an open, web-based platform to encourage deeper engagement, and to enable people (and machines), to use and build on books and reading in new and meaningful ways.

Where Are We At?
We're at the very start of this. Over the last year, we've figured out a whole bunch of solid hunches, gotten great feedback and we've even built some parts of what we think we'll need.

We'll shortly need help with engineering, development, community, and advice of all kinds.

If you're interested or curious, please don't hesitate to get in touch below!"
publishing  openaccess  books  borisanthony  textbooks  open  ebooks 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Geographic Information System Basics - Table of Contents
[via: http://2012books.lardbucket.org/ ]

"Maps are everywhere—on the Internet, in your car, and even on your mobile phone. Moreover, maps of the twenty-first century are not just paper diagrams folded like an accordion. Maps today are colorful, searchable, interactive, and shared. This transformation of the static map into dynamic and interactive multimedia reflects the integration of technological innovation and vast amounts of geographic data. The key technology behind this integration, and subsequently the maps of the twenty-first century, is geographic information systems or GIS.

Put simply, GIS is a special type of information technology that integrates data and information from various sources as maps. It is through this integration and mapping that the question of “where” has taken on new meaning. From getting directions to a new restaurant in San Francisco on your mobile device to exploring what will happen to coastal cities like Venice if oceans were to rise due to global warming, GIS provides insights into daily tasks and the big challenges of the future.

Essentials of Geographic Information Systems integrates key concepts behind the technology with practical concerns and real-world applications. Recognizing that many potential GIS users are nonspecialists or may only need a few maps, this book is designed to be accessible, pragmatic, and concise. Essentials of Geographic Information Systems also illustrates how GIS is used to ask questions, inform choices, and guide policy. From the melting of the polar ice caps to privacy issues associated with mapping, this book provides a gentle, yet substantive, introduction to the use and application of digital maps, mapping, and GIS.

In today's world, learning involves knowing how and where to search for information. In some respects, knowing where to look for answers and information is arguably just as important as the knowledge itself. Because Essentials of Geographic Information Systems is concise, focused, and directed, readers are encouraged to search for supplementary information and to follow up on specific topics of interest on their own when necessary. Essentials of Geographic Information Systems provides the foundations for learning GIS, but readers are encouraged to construct their own individual frameworks of GIS knowledge. The benefits of this approach are two-fold. First, it promotes active learning through research. Second, it facilitates flexible and selective learning—that is, what is learned is a function of individual needs and interest.

Since GIS and related geospatial and navigation technology change so rapidly, a flexible and dynamic text is necessary in order to stay current and relevant. Though essential concepts in GIS tend to remain constant, the situations, applications, and examples of GIS are fluid and dynamic. The Flat World model of publishing is especially relevant for a text that deals with information technology. Though this book is intended for use in introductory GIS courses, Essentials of Geographic Information Systems will also appeal to the large number of certificate, professional, extension, and online programs in GIS that are available today. In addition to providing readers with the tools necessary to carry out spatial analyses, Essentials of Geographic Information Systems outlines valuable cartographic guidelines for maximizing the visual impact of your maps. The book also describes effective GIS project management solutions that commonly arise in the modern workplace. Order your desk copy of Essentials of Geographic Information Systems or view it online to evaluate it for your course."
gis  textbooks  geography  sayloracademy 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

We don't want to write a detailed curriculum or devise a bunch of rules in advance and then spend the year demanding that kids conform to them. Our main concern is that what students are learning, and how they're helped to learn it, make sense for the particular kids in a given room. That's why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling -- and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them.

Take Ms. _______ and Mr. ________, who are both standing in the back of the room, over there near the fire alarm. (Say hello!) They teach the same grade and the same subjects, but do they have the same curriculum -- the same topics in the same order with the same reading list and assignments? Well, of course not! They teach different kids! And I happen to know that much of what each of them is teaching this year is different from what they were teaching last year. For the same reason.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they're likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they've been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, if you get a sense that they see what they're doing here as a chore, please let us know! Hating school isn't a fact of life; it's a problem to be solved. We're not going to talk about "how to motivate them" or just expect them to "improve their attitude"; it's our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we've come to take for granted, well, we're not going to say, "Too bad. That's life." We're going to rethink those practices.

You want a couple of examples? Well, I think I can safely say -- and feel free, teachers, to contradict me here -- that all of us on the staff used to assume that things like grades, tests, homework, and textbooks were just part of the educational package. So we focused on the details of how we did them -- what seem to us now like piddly little questions. We would solemnly ask: Should grades be posted online -- and what's the best way to do that? Or: Exactly how many minutes of homework should be assigned? Should students be permitted to retake tests? Should textbooks be available digitally? (Boy, that's "innovation" for you, huh? The same collection of predigested facts from a giant publishing conglomerate but, hey, now it's on an iPad!)

Anyway, we gradually realized that because we were so busy asking how to implement x, y, and z, we had let ourselves off the hook by failing to ask whether x, y, or z should be done at all. For instance, a lot of studies have shown that when you give kids grades, they tend to lose interest in what they're learning – and also become less thoughtful in the way they learn it. So if we can offer kids (and also you parents) much more meaningful feedback about how they're doing in school – through written observations and, better yet, in-person conversations -- then why would we risk smothering their excitement about learning by slapping a letter or number on them? We were doing real damage by training kids to think that the point of going to school is to get A's. The solution wasn't to implement “standards-based grading,” or to change “A” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” or ramp up the use of rubrics (which basically take all that's wrong with grades and intensify it). No. The solution was to get rid of grading entirely and replace it with something better. So that's just what we've done. And the results have been nothing short of amazing.

The same thing is true with other old-fashioned practices. Homework creates frustration, anxiety, boredom, exhaustion -- and it's no fun for the kids either! (Ba-dum-bum). So we really paid attention when we discovered teachers -- some in our school, some in other schools -- who had completely stopped assigning homework and found real improvement in the way kids felt about school, about learning, about themselves, and about their teachers -- all without detracting from the quality of their learning. True, kids end up doing less drill and practice when they're free to do what they enjoy after school, but our teachers have gone way beyond the old drill-and-practice approach anyway!

We've seen similar benefits after educating ourselves about how to evaluate kids' understanding of ideas without using tests. And about how textbooks can be left on the shelves, to be consulted occasionally like reference sources, rather than dictating course content. What?? A school without tests or textbooks?? Yes. It's not only possible; it opens new possibilities for learning -- to the point that we wondered why we hadn't ditched these relics years ago.

Well, let's be honest. Some of us wondered that. Others of us are still a little, um, uneasy about completely getting rid of these traditional practices. Some of us understandably need help teaching with primary sources instead of textbooks. Or getting better at knowing how well students are doing (or how we're doing) without giving kids tests and quizzes. Or doing what needs to be done during class instead of saddling kids with more schoolwork after the school day is over.

So we're still struggling with some of this. But we're pretty sure at least we're asking the right questions now. And I'm happy to report that this shift is taking place in all the schools in our district -- elementary, middle, and high schools, since everything I'm talking about tonight is relevant to all grade levels. In fact, at the risk of making your head explode, I could mention that the same is true of a bunch of other features of Old Style education that we're also starting to look at skeptically now: segregating kids by age, or teaching different subjects separately, or even making kids raise their hands so that the teacher alone decides who gets to talk when. If there are solid reasons to keep doing these things, fine. If not, well, "that's the way things have always been done" is a pretty lame justification for not making a change, isn't it?"



"We talk a lot about the importance of creating a caring community of learners. Actually, I guess lots of schools use phrases like that, but one way we prove we really mean it is by making sure we don't do anything that disrupts a feeling of community -- like setting kids against each other in a contest for awards or recognition. The day we start publicly singling out one child as better than everyone else is the day we've given up on the ideal of community. This doesn't mean we don't care about excellence. Just the opposite! Real excellence comes from helping students to see one another as potential collaborators. Sorting them into winners and losers leads each kid to see everyone else as a rival. That undermines achievement (as well as caring and trust) for winners and losers alike. So instead of awards assemblies, you can expect to be invited to student-designed celebrations of what all of us have accomplished together. These ceremonies can be amazingly moving, by the way. If you're used to those rituals where a few kids are called up to the stage to be applauded for having triumphed over their peers, well, you're in for a real treat.

Because we take kids -- all kids -- so seriously here at _________, and because we treat them, and their ideas, with respect, we tend to have remarkably few discipline problems. Few, not none. When there is a problem, we don't talk about it in terms of a kid's "behavior" that needs to be changed; we ask what's going on beneath the behavior. Sometimes what's going on is that something about the school isn't working for that child. That's not a signal to fix the child, to lean on him until he does what he's told. You're sending us your children, not your pets, so we don't use rewards and consequences. We don't bribe or threaten them to make them behave. Hey, we don't like to be treated that way, so why would we treat our students that way? We don't use point systems, or dangle prizes in front of them, or use other strategies of control. Those gimmicks don't really work in the long run, and they're an awfully disrespectful way to treat people of any age. Besides, we find that when the learning is engaging, when our requests are reasonable, when we view students as people to be consulted rather than as bundles of behaviors to be reinforced, most of the time they live up to our expectations. Or even go beyond them.

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
No profit left behind - Stephanie Simon - POLITICO
"In the high-stakes world of American education, Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up."
2015  pearson  stephaniesimon  education  schools  politics  policy  testing  curriculum  us  standardizedtesting  textbooks  commoncore 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Will Richardson Ignite Presentation ISTE 2013 [Vimeo]
[Notes from: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/07/19-bold-not-old-ideas-for-change.html ]

"1. Give open network tests. Forget open book / phone tests.
Let’s have open network assessments where students can use the tools they own and love for learning. School should not be a place where we force kids to unplug and disconnect from the world.

2. Stop wasting money on textbooks.
Make your own texts with things like wikis.

3. Google yourself
If we’re not empowering ourselves and our students to be Google well, we’re not doing a good job.

4. Flip the power structure from adults to learners
Empower students with the tools and resources they need to go where they want to go and explore and develop their interests and passions.

5. Don’t do work for the classroom
Support learners in doing work that is worthy of, can exist in, and can change the world.

6. Stop telling kids to do their own work
That’s not reality any longer. Support them in collaborating, interacting, and cooperating with others.

7. Learn first. Teach second.
We must come into our classrooms knowing that we are learners first. If we think we are teachers first, we are not giving our students the powerful learning models they’ll need to be successful.

8. No more how-to workshops
Educators should know how to find out how to on their own. When we come together it should be to talk about how we are doing.

9. Share everything
The best work of you and your students should be shared online. This will help us all get better.

10. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to
The learning of high stakes tests with predetermined answers is not as powerful as the learning that comes from finding our own new and unique answers.

11. Believe that you want to be found by strangers on the internet
If you think kids aren’t going to interact with strangers on the internet, you’re wrong. Let’s embrace that and support kids in being smart when doing so and learning a lot about the minds they are meeting.

12. Rethink the role of the teacher
We should not be doing the same work that 20th century teachers did. Consider how technology can and should change our roles.

13. Toss the resume
No one cares about your resume anymore. The internet is the new resume. What will people find when they look at who you are online? That is what you should be focusing on.

14. Go beyond Google to learn
Build your personal learning network and learn with and from the people you know via places like Twitter and Facebook.

15. Go free and open source
We have a budget crises, yet schools are wasting millions on things that are offered for free.

16. Create an UnCommon Core
Don’t ask how you will meet the common core, empower kids to think about how they will change the world.

17. Stop delivering the curriculum
This is no longer necessary. Information can be accessed without a teacher. Move beyond delivery to discovery.

18. Be subversive
When Lisa (was he talking about me?) is told to do a standardized test, stand up and say NO! We have to be disruptive and push back.

19, Stand up and scream
Tell everyone that education is not about publishers and politicians but rather it’s about what students and parents want and how teachers can best give that to them."
willrichardson  2013  education  unlearning  opensource  free  curriculum  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  schools  networks  systemsthinking  disruption  testing  openbooktests  opennetworktests  resumes  textbooks  power  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  web  internet  access  information  collaboration  cheating  google  twitter  lifelonglearning  question  askingquestion  questionasking  subversion  empowerment  askingquestions 
june 2014 by robertogreco
ClintLalonde.net | The pedagogical features of a textbook
"This is pretty exciting stuff. Theoretically, if we create a button in the user interface to insert a case study into the textbook, it could also insert metadata that identifies that block of content as a case study. Once you have content identified, you could then build API’s that could extract the textbook specific content chunks. From a reuse and remixability perspective, this makes a textbook modular. Build an API that can, for example, extract just the practice questions in a book and you can create a separate practice question handbook with nothing but the practice questions from the book. In essence, we can make the book modular and with that modularity comes flexibility to potentially mix and match content in interesting and unique ways.

But before we get to the point where we could have modular & remixable content, we need to focus and determine what are the really useful pedagogical features of a textbook that improves student learning. Once we can answer that, then we have some footing to proceed to the next step & build the technology to enable that."
education  2014  textbooks  clintlalonde  interface  pedagogy  via:audreywatters 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Invisible Literature | Submitted For Your Perusal
“I have always been a voracious reader of what I term ‘invisible literature’ – market research reports, sex manuals, medical textbooks … By comparison with this, most writers have nothing of interest to say whatever, and an hour spent not reading them is an hour gained forever.”

—J. G. Ballard
jgballard  internetasliterature  invisibleliterature  literature  content  reading  textbooks  manuals  writing  internetasfavoritebook 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Will · Educon 2.5-ish Random-ish Reflections
"But the one thing we kind of danced around that I wish we’d had more time for was the “ok, so what do we do about it.” Two snippets spoke to that. First, at one point we began talking about the inroads that companies had made into education via the Apple Distinguished Educator or Google Certified Teacher brands, and whether or not there was a downside to helping to market companies that at the end of the day may not have the best intentions or visions for the type of progressive reforms that many of us are calling for."

WILL ASKS:

"We don’t need textbooks anymore. We can make our own with our kids. But textbook companies need us to need textbooks. Other companies need us to need LMSs even though we don’t really need them. Etc. What, at the end of the day, are the products that really serve the vision of teaching and learning that we’re now talking about?"

MY COMMENT:

"I. Self-organized learning

This is something I've been thinking about lately. If we are not given true control (when, how, what, etc.) of our own education then we can always blame others for our education. We become victims. This is the problem with compulsory schooling and predetermined curriculum.

On the other hand, if we are given complete control of our education then we can only blame ourselves for its shortcomings. We are allowed self-determination. That is empowering.

II. The tools at our disposal

"What, at the end of the day, are the products that really serve the vision of teaching and learning that we’re now talking about?"

Same as they've always been (though not really products): the people and places in our communities. That includes libraries and museums, of course.

And from recent years: broadband connections (connecting to people, ideas and resources from around the world) and maker spaces (in many ways, those are not really new)."
willrichardson  educon  educon2.5  2013  self-organizedlearning  education  learning  tools  empowerment  blame  victimization  teaching  schools  schooling  textbooks  lms  audreywatters  comments 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Star struck
"Tonight the Milky Way stretches across a sky lit up by at least a thousand stars. A hundred and fifty miles north of here, in Bloomfield, the Milky Way is a paragraph in a textbook, and nothing more than that.

I live in both universes, the one with stars, and the one without. One with tidal flats, one with concrete. One with surreal moments under the sea, the other chasing the #34 bus.

Something as simple as that, the presence of stars, affects how I see the world, which means it profoundly affects who I am.

I forget this every day. Every day.

Words remind me, of course, but they ultimately fail.

If you trust words more than the sky, you may be human, but you will not be alive. If I have to choose between them, give me the night sky. Howling at the moon is wisdom enough."
wisdom  startstruck  stars  textbooks  living  life  humanity  nightsky  perspective  words  2012  michaeldoyle  milkyway  astronomy 
october 2012 by robertogreco
dy/dan » On iBooks 2 And iBooks Author
"Algebra, as designed by McGraw-Hill for iBooks 2, is lighter by pounds. It's indexed for search. It's quick. You can highlight the text and insert notes. It removes one layer of abstraction between students and tools that already existed. Rather than accessing quizzes, tutorials, and enrichment videos by loading a CD-ROM into a computer or entering a password into a website, they're a tap away.

That's where the differences end. Students still interact with mathematics as they always have…

What I'm saying, basically, is that I'd have to modify, adapt, and extend the McGraw-Hill iBook in all the same ways that I modified, adapted, and extended the McGraw-Hill print textbook. We'd pull out the iBook just as infrequently as its printed sibling."
2012  algebra  learning  education  textbooks  ibooks  danmeyer  teaching  math  ibooksauthor 
february 2012 by robertogreco
dy/dan » Blog Archive » It’s Called iBooks Author, Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results
"Print textbooks are powerless to facilitate that moment right there. Teachers can't facilitate it, not at anywhere near the speed and ease I'm suggesting. iBooks Author can't facilitate it either, but if it could — if it had some kind of "Q&A;" widget that lived alongside its other widgets and basically copied all the options from Google Forms — I'd find the platform difficult to resist.

But iBooks Author doesn't exist for the pleasure of math education publishers or even education publishers. "This is about Apple versus Amazon for who will sell digital literature in the future," says Audrey Watters. "This isn't really about textbooks."

iBooks Author serves publishers, period. It'll help you publish your Firefly fan fiction, your autobiography, or your Nana's recipe collection. It's extremely useful, broadly speaking, which inevitably means that, narrowly speaking to math education publishers, it's much less useful."
education  teaching  math  ibooksauthor  books  publishing  danmeyer  2012  textbooks  ibooks 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Matthew Battles: It doesn’t take Cupertino to make textbooks interactive » Nieman Journalism Lab
"Schiller made a sentimental play to this constituency, opening his presentation with a series of excerpted interviews in which teachers sang the sad litany of challenges they face: cratering budgets, overcrowded classrooms, unprepared, disengaged students. The argument that Apple — founded by dropouts and autodidacts — is fundamentally motivated to change this set of conditions is as ludicrous as the notion that the company could ever hope actually to do any such thing…

We can never count Apple out — the company’s visions have an implacable way of turning into givens — but the future is undoubtedly more complex. There will still be overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers, and shrinking budgets in an education world animated by Apple. But I prefer to think of teachers and students finding ways to hack knowledge and make their own beautiful stories to envisioning ranks of studens spellbound by magical tablets."
ibooksauthor  ibooks  technology  schooliness  rubrics  standardization  autodidacts  pearson  timcarmody  matthewbattles  publishing  tablets  knwoledgebowl  knowledge  interactive  textbooks  books  schools  learning  storytelling  teaching  education  2012  ipad  apple 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Occupy your classroom « Cooperative Catalyst
"If you would occupy your statehouse to keep your job, pay, and benefits, please also consider occupying your classroom.

Give your students at least a day a week to follow their passions.
Get rid of your furniture. Help kids borrow, bring, or build their own.
Get rid of your textbooks. Or redact them.
Ask kids to make sense of the world as it happens across media and technologies.
Build communities instead of reinforcing expectations.

It will be very scary, but not as scary as what others face. It will be very uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as remaining silent. It will cost us some, but without making some sacrifice we shouldn’t expect or ask our students to save us or our world."
chadsansing  education  occupywallstreet  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  community  media  technology  activism  textbooks  schooldesign  lcproject  learning  furniture  google20%  unstructuredtime 
october 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Pedagogy 101
"Suited (I thought) and tied,
earnest as the day was very long,
I taught them when to be still,
why they needed to listen,
where Columbus was born,
how to answer textbook questions
and what the similarity was
between my decrees and their grades.

Sitting at bolted desks
while flies rambled on tall windows
they taught me when to shut my mouth,
why I needed to hear,
where they were coming from,
how to question textbook answers,
and what the difference is
between schooling and education."
poetry  irasocol  alanshapiro  2011  1999  poems  education  teaching  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  textbooks  learning  schools  schooliness  memorization  understanding 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Smarthistory: a multimedia web-book about art and art history
"…a free, not-for-profit, multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional art history textbook. Dr. Beth Harris & Dr. Steven Zucker began smARThistory in 2005 by creating a blog featuring free audio guides in the form of podcasts for use in MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Soon after, we embedded the audio files in our online survey courses. The response from our students was so positive that we decided to create a multi-media survey of art history web-book. We created audios and videos about works of art found in standard art history survey texts, organized the files stylistically and chronologically, and added text and still images.<br />
We are interested in delivering the narratives of art history using the read-write web's interactivity and capacity for authoring and remixing. Publishers are adding multimedia to their textbooks, but unfortunately they are doing so in proprietary, password-protected adjunct websites."
art  history  education  reference  arthistory  textbooks  via:caterina  classideas  greatartists  online  web  internet  archives 
february 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - Rethinking Education
"This video was produced as a contribution to the EDUCAUSE book, The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing, edited by Richard Katz and available as an e-Book at http://www.educause.edu/thetowerandth... or commercially at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0967... Produced in 2007 as a conversation starter in small groups. Released in 2011 as a conversation starter online."
education  digital  learning  teaching  universities  colleges  michaelwesch  internet  technology  web  online  highereducation  highered  web2.0  yochaibenkler  peer-production  software  publishing  textbooks  wikipedia  marshallmcluhan  knowledge  google  books  accessibility  agitpropproject  the2837university  access 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Bouvet Island is “the most remote... - Noteworthy and Not
"I felt I was on the ship the first time I glanced at this evocative scene  and, so, set off on an exploration.

The photo was taken at sunrise at an eight miles distance on the 1898 German Valdivia expedition w/ Carl Chun and water colored by F. Winter.  Can you see that the center of the island is the ice-filled crater of an inactive volcano? The expedition did not land.

The Wikipedia entry reads like flash fiction. This chunk of rock and ice has many stories, an unused Internet country code top-level domain (.bv) and a path to this little bit of humor.

I wish I had never read a history textbook."
history  imagination  bettyannsloan  wikipedia  exploration  reading  education  textbooks  unschooling  deschooling  ego 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» Blog Archive » Cheating vs. Learning
"Teaching from a textbook is almost always crappy teaching, so the whole system is flawed. It seems to me that cheating is the almost inevitable consequence of test-giving and test-taking. It doesn’t have to be this way. The best method for assessing learning progress is self-assessment, with the input of someone passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. This would require a lot of trust in the student, but also more work on the part of the teacher — who would not really be a teacher at all, in the traditional sense, but a person in love with a certain topic, probably a practitioner of the subject in question, maybe retired, maybe active.

Here’s my idea of what an ideal school would be like, borrowed from David Albert’s book And the Skylark Sings with Me a book about a family’s experience in home and community based education. It’s how I’ve envisioned, but never articulated, my own perfect school. "
caterinafake  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  schools  schooling  teasting  testtaking  textbooks  self-assessment  selfeducated  self-evaluation  davidalbert  andtheskylarksingswithme  lcproject  tcsnmy  apprenticeships  cheating 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Lessons Learned in Stockholm: Thoughts from Head of School — THINK Global School
"Humans balk at a completely unstructured day…we can build a good compromise between unstructured classes & traditional timetable. Ideally, we will be able to sit down w/ students at weekly Sunday meetings & map out week ahead.

…schools will do better managing tech if admin sets clear objectives for tech program but then creates conditions for healthy, intelligent experimenting by faculty & students…internal crowd-sourcing is fastest way to develop set of best practices to fit school’s mission…iPhone = single most important tool we’ve used this term…

Less is more. We overbooked museum tours, lectures & adventures at start of term. Better–much better–to go to same gallery 3 times & work closely w/ docent than go to 3 different exhibits. Better–much better–to study 3 paintings closely than whole galleries worth superficially. In future, we want to collaborate w/ museums, galleries, universities, exhibitions & so on that are willing to develop deep & tightly focused projects."
iphone  ipad  teaching  learning  technology  simplicity  slow  slowness  lessismore  tgs  thinkglobalschool  bradovenell-carter  lcproject  blockschedules  scheduling  tcsnmy  schools  travel  structure  textbooks  textbookfree  meaning  focus  depthoverbreadth  cv 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Borderland › Making Fire
"Anyway, this little classroom moment may be of interest. The focus for 6th-grade Social Studies is ancient civilizations. We study Egypt, the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia, Greece & Rome. But, because I am slow, we never really get very far into Rome before I run into summer break. & Rome is pretty interesting. Besides that, the kids don’t really learn much about ancient civs slogging through the textbook on a chronological forced march. So, I decided that this year I’d try something new, & study the topic conceptually. I think that it might be interesting to study civilization itself, as in government, culture, economy, technology, etc. & use the relevant ancient civilizations as examples of the general concept."<br />
<br />
And: "The problem of authority in education, & society in general, is an issue we need to pay attention to. I’ve been reading a lot about anarchism, & I think there may be some useful lessons to be drawn between that history & education reform. More to come."
dougnoon  teaching  ancientcivilization  projectbasedlearning  textbooks  conceptualunderstanding  conceptualthinking  anarchy  reading  bloging  endgame  derekjansen  blogging  reform  education  learning  deschooling  unschooling  history  society  anarchism  pbl 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Picture Show: Museology Revisited - - GOOD
"Whether disappearance of environments and dioramas reflects a change in how we learn or evolving curator tastes is unclear, but the shift is both noteworthy and something of a shame. Though it has motivated Ross to take his camera back into museums. "In the future, the whole concept of textbook learning may change so drastically that the need for an individual diorama that captures a moment of space, time, and environment may not be there any more," says Ross. "We're not there yet, though. Right now, we're in a transit, and the dioramas have distinctly changed.""
richardross  evolution  animals  photography  museums  history  exhibits  nature  learning  curation  textbooks  dioramas  change  gamechanging  art  books 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Borderland › We Are In Deep Doo Doo
"So let us understand that this is a global project that began 40 years ago, was tested, refined – if you want to use that word – imposed on Africa, Asia, and Latin America by the World Bank. ... What’s the project? Here are the contours: Privatization, fragmentation of oversight and regulation and creation of individual schools, standardized testing, and assault on teachers’ unions. Those are the 4 pillars of this project. ... So I’m gonna quote for you from something called...The World Development Report 2002... The analysis is the following: The market is the best regulator of all services, and the state, the welfare state causes problems by intruding on free choice. Next, the global economy requires that workers from every country compete with others for jobs. And since most people will be competing with workers in other countries for jobs requiring little formal education, money spent on a highly educated workforce is wasted. In other words, most jobs are in Walmarts."
education  politics  teachers  teaching  neoliberalism  markets  dianeravitch  dougnoon  loiswerner  worldbank  standardization  testing  economics  money  unions  fragmentation  standardizedtesting  oversight  textbooks  charterschools 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Weblogg-ed » Reality Check
"When the administrator got the phone call from the parent who wanted to set up the meeting, she asked for some sense of what the problem was. The reply? “Our students don’t need to be a part of a classroom experiment with all this technology stuff. They need to have a real teacher with real textbooks and real tests.”"
technology  education  cv  learning  schools  parentdemands  policy  tradition  textbooks  edtech  beenthere  tcsnmy  willrichardson 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Teaching in Social and Technological Networks « Connectivism
"social & technological networks subvert the classroom-based role of the teacher. Networks thin classroom walls. Experts are no longer “out there” or “over there”. Skype brings anyone, from anywhere, into a classroom. Students are not confined to interacting with only the ideas of a researcher or theorist...The largely unitary voice of the traditional teacher is fragmented by the limitless conversation opportunities available in networks. When learners have control of the tools of conversation, they also control the conversations in which they choose to engage. Course content is similarly fragmented. The textbook is now augmented with YouTube videos, online articles, simulations, Second Life builds, virtual museums, Diigo content trails, StumpleUpon reflections, and so on...The following are roles teacher play in networked learning environments: 1. Amplifying 2. Curating 3. Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking 4. Aggregating 5. Filtering 6. Modelling 7. Persistent presence"
connectivism  teaching  learning  technology  education  networking  socialmedia  georgesiemens  wayfinding  unschooling  deschooling  networkedlearning  tcsnmy  lcproject  curation  filtering  modeling  sensemaking  cv  amplifying  content  textbooks  pedagogy  21stcenturylearning  openeducation  highereducation  networks  e-learning  elearning  apprenticeships  teacherasmasterlearner 
february 2010 by robertogreco
How Christian Were the Founders? - NYTimes.com
"This is how history is made — or rather, how the hue and cry of the present and near past gets lodged into the long-term cultural memory or else is allowed to quietly fade into an inaudible whisper. Public education has always been a battleground between cultural forces; one reason that Texas’ school-board members find themselves at the very center of the battlefield is, not surprisingly, money. The state’s $22 billion education fund is among the largest educational endowments in the country. Texas uses some of that money to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually — which rather strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor their products to fit the standards dictated by the Lone Star State. California is the largest textbook market, but besides being bankrupt, it tends to be so specific about what kinds of information its students should learn that few other states follow its lead."

[see also: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com//features/2010/1001.blake.html ]
history  government  religion  2010  controversy  conservatism  christianity  education  politics  science  debate  creationism  textbooks  tcsnmy  texas  california  us  commentary 
february 2010 by robertogreco
dy/dan » Blog Archive » (One Of Many Reasons) Why Students Hate Algebra
"Would a real person need to solve this problem?...the solution realistic?...using a system of 2 equations?...in what ways does this problem help our students become better problem solvers?"...problem you will only find in a textbook...bizarre...how many different ways just 50 words can fail to square with reality. Why does each chaperone have to drive? Why can't we take 5 vans? Why do our vehicles have to seat the exact number of people in our group & no more?...Algebra teachers sell students a cheap distortion of the real world while insisting at the same time that it really is the real world. The cognitive dissonance is obvious & terrible. Students know the difference. It cheapens my relationship to them & their relationship to mathematics when you ask me to lie to them...Not only are the short-term consequences devastating but it makes that person distrustful or wary of the real thing. Make no mistake. We are making an alien of algebra. We are doing real damage here."
math  algebra  education  tcsnmy  teaching  learning  reality  disservice  realworld  realism  distortion  schools  schooling  textbooks  cognitivedissonance  deschooling  unschooling  authenticity  danmeyer 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Inkling: The world's first end-to-end platform for mobile learning
"Inkling makes it easy to bring rich, interactive learning content to tablet devices like iPad. Inkling engages students and provides authors and publishers with an exciting new way to bring content to market. It’s more than just the best digital textbook experience ever. It’s the best learning experience ever."
ipad  education  software  ebooks  inkling  ebook  iphone  applications  development  glvo  lcproject  technology  publishing  textbooks  tcsnmy  ios 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Infrastructure Spending Will Not Revive the Economy - WSJ.com
"Forget old-fashioned infrastructure. Here are six government projects to foster a lasting economic recovery...Climb poles for wireless...Dig fiber ditches...Sequence proteins...Lighten backpacks [digitize textbooks]...Scan medical records...Require TOU meters...The technology is starting to roll out (with some stimulus money) in the form of Time of Use (TOU) meters replacing those ugly glass bulbs with spinning disks. Coupled with wireless in-house devices that show appliance electrical usage in real time and clever software at utilities, I'd bet peak usage would drop 30% and educate a million workers on the workings of the future smart electric grid. Beats subsidies for caulking windows."
commentary  technology  internet  future  politics  economics  government  stimulus  infrastructure  us  publicworks  wireless  medicine  medicalrecords  education  textbooks  access  energy  sustainability  efficiency  tou  timeofuse 
december 2009 by robertogreco
When Reading Becomes Work
"The authors of the Kaiser report attribute the decline in elective reading to greater amounts of homework; reading is viewed as work, so leisure becomes an escape from work. It's worth asking, then, what happens in these late elementary and middle school years to turn reading into labor — and one answer must surely be the prominence of textbooks. In most schools, education becomes divided along subject lines, and these subjects are taught through comprehensive (and extremely expensive) textbooks.

The rituals of textbook use are so familiar as to be part of the American landscape...Yet textbooks typically fail to provide the most basic conditions for readerly engagement. They are great vehicles for generating corporate profits, but poor ones for creating readers. They fail young readers on four dimensions of reading — authorship, form, venue, and duration."
reading  textbooks  education  teaching  tcsnmy  pleasure  adolescence  middleschool 
september 2009 by robertogreco
O’DonnellWeb - A People’s History of the US – I
"As you know if you follow my Twitter stream, I’ve been reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I got interested in the book when there was a flurry of letters to the editor in the local paper about a local high school using it in AP history. Apparently the “America First” crowd around here can’t take any viewpoint that deviates from the whitewashed version of history that we got in school.
howardzinn  us  history  textbooks  education  politics  tcsnmy 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Free Digital Textbook Initiative
"From government to non-profit organizations, teachers to textbook publishers, we all have a role to play in leveraging 21st century technology to expand learning and better serve California's students, parents, teachers and schools. This initiative will ensure our schools know which digital textbooks stand up to California's academic content standards - so these cost-effective resources can be used in our schools to help ensure each and every student has access to a world-class education." - Governor Schwarzenegger
california  free  textbooks  tcsnmy  education  open  learning  technology  teaching  government  books  ebooks  2009  math  science 
august 2009 by robertogreco
CK-12.org
"CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the "FlexBook," CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning."
education  learning  e-learning  physics  science  math  textbooks  opensource  free  curriculum  elearning  books  teaching  resources  openaccess  flexbook  ebooks  opencontent  tcsnmy 
august 2009 by robertogreco
The 500-Pound Gorilla
"Indeed, we might even go so far as to identify as one of the most crucial tasks in a democratic society the act of limiting the power that corporations have in determining what happens in, and to, our schools. Not long ago, as historian Joel Spring pointed out, you would have been branded a radical (or worse) for suggesting that our educational system is geared to meeting the needs of business. Today, corporations not only acknowledge that fact but freely complain when they think schools aren’t adequately meeting their needs. They are not shy about trying to make over the schools in their own image. It’s up to the rest of us, therefore, to firmly tell them to mind their own businesses."
alfiekohn  2002  corporations  education  business  policy  politics  democracy  priorities  textbooks  tcsnmy  testing  assessment 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Woodlawn Elementary thinks outside the book to pull D to a B - St. Petersburg Times
"Last fall, Woodlawn Elementary's math teachers locked up their textbooks in a music room closet. Faced with FCAT scores that figured in the school's D grade in 2007-08, the teachers decided to get radical and overhaul their math curriculum. It paid off. The school went from a D to a B this year, logging impressive gains on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, especially in math.

Instead of textbooks, teachers used games, group assignments and other materials. They also focused on showing students different ways to solve the same problem."
math  teaching  textbooks  tcsnmy  education  assessment  curriculum 
july 2009 by robertogreco
edublogs: Seth on why the textbook industry deserves to die
"Seth's assumption is the same as mine, and the underlying pretext of the eduBuzz platform: that teachers are paid to share their knowledge, not just with those students in front of them but with anyone in their learning communities, and sharing with this community will make us all better teachers and learners.
sethgodin  ewanmcintosh  textbooks  books  teaching  education  learning  money  industry  change  reform  elearning  ebooks  blogging  wikis  tcsnmy 
june 2009 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Online push in California schools
"From the beginning of the next school year in August, maths and science students in California's high schools will have access to online texts that have passed an academic standards review.
california  arnoldschwarzenegger  textbooks  education  learning  technology  internet  politics  money  budget  schools  publicschools 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online - NYTimes.com
"Math students in high-performing school district used to rush through their Algebra I textbooks only to spend the first few months of Algebra II relearning everything they forgot or failed to grasp the 1st time...district’s frustrated math teachers decided to rewrite algebra curriculum, limiting it to about 1/2 of the 90 concepts typically covered in a high school course in hopes of developing a deeper understanding of key topics...replacing 1,000+ page math textbooks with their own custom-designed online curriculum...“In America, we run through chapters like a speeding train. Schools in Singapore & India spend more time on each topic & their kids do better. We’re boiling down math to the essentials.”...students focus only on linear functions in Algebra I, taught in 7th, 8th or 9th grade depending on student ability & leave quadratics & exponents to Algebra II, eliminating overlap & repetition typical of most textbooks & curriculum guidelines...result=less review+higher test scores"
math  teaching  curriculum  streamlining  tcsnmy  algebra  rollyourown  textbooks  online 
june 2009 by robertogreco
A Difference: Calculus Made Easy
"'Considering how many fools can calculate, it is surprising that it should be thought either a difficult or tedious task for any other fool to learn how to master the same tricks.' By far the best opening line for a math text ever written. Now released from copyright restrictions you can download a copy, visit the scribd.com version, or read it here. I think I'm going to use this as the text for my High School Calculus class next year and perhaps as a supplemental text for my AP Calculus students. "
calculus  math  books  ebooks  textbooks 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Will Depth Replace Breadth in Schools? - Class Struggle - Jay Mathews on Education
"Sadler and Tai have previously hinted at where this was going. In 2001 they reported that students who did not use a textbook in high school physics—an indication that their teachers disdained hitting every topic — achieved higher college grades than those who used a textbook.
teaching  learning  textbooks  science  curriculum  jaymatthews  education  policy  tcsnmy  depth  breadth 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Art of Problem Solving
"Art of Problem Solving texts offer a challenging curriculum in problem solving mathematics for strong math students in grades 6-12. The bookstore also offers a variety of other books from prominent competitions, such as MOEMS, MATHCOUNTS, and the AMC." "Art of Problem Solving online classes allow top students from around the world to hone their problem solving skills. Ideal for gifted math students in grade 6-12 who seek a greater challenge in mathematics, and those students preparing for MATHCOUNTS, the AMC, or other prominent mathematics contests."
math  education  free  learning  problemsolving  gifted  textbooks  curriculum  teaching  srg  edg  homeschool 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Marks and Meaning, version zero by Dave Gray (Book) in Business & Economics
"Warning: DON'T BUY THIS BOOK if you are uncomfortable with unfinished work! This is version zero, much of the content is still in a vague and formative stage. Marks and meaning is a work in progress; an evolving exploration of visual language, visual thinking and visual work practices by the founder and Chairman of XPLANE, the visual thinking company. An unfinished work, it's a hybrid: part sketchbook, part textbook, part workbook, and continuously updated by the author, based on feedback and conversations with readers. This is version zero: the first version available to the public."
learning  collaboration  infographics  thinking  process  communication  tcsnmy  connectivism  davegray  visualthinking  xplane  unbook  unproduct  evolvingbook  evolution  language  visualization  sketching  notebooks  sketchbooks  workbooks  textbooks  lulu  unfinished 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Corruption in textbook-adoption proceedings: 'Judging Books by Their Covers' [via: http://www.kottke.org/08/10/feynman-on-school-textbooks]
"In 1964 the eminent physicist Richard Feynman served on the State of California's Curriculum Commission and saw how the Commission chose math textbooks for use in California's public schools. In his acerbic memoir of that experience, titled "Judging Books by Their Covers," Feynman analyzed the Commission's idiotic method of evaluating books, and he described some of the tactics employed by schoolbook salesmen who wanted the Commission to adopt their shoddy products."
textbooks  richardfeynman  pedagogy  schools  corruption  education  learning  language  humor  mathematics  physics  science  politics  teaching  absurdity  perpetualabsurdity 
october 2008 by robertogreco
CK-12 - Next Generation Textbooks
"CK-12 Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in January 2007, aims to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the US and worldwide. Using a collaborative and web-based compilation model that can be manifested as an adaptive textbook - termed the "FlexBook" - CK-12 intends to pioneer the creation and distribution of high quality educational web texts both as traditional print and online medium. At the same time, CK-12 hopes to use the leverage that open source models, like Linux software and Wikipedia encyclopedia, have used to continually improve regionally and temporally relevant content."

[See also Wikiepdia, especially this part about the Flexbook system:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CK-12_Foundation#Flexbook_System ]

"The Flexbook System is an online platform for assembling, authoring, and distributing interactive, multi-modal educational content. Content is searchable by subject, grade-level, and state and national education standards. Flexbooks can be downloaded and used as-is, or can be customized by teachers to match their students’ learning styles and their schools’ curricula. Inside each book, entire chapters or bite-sized concepts can be rearranged, added, removed, and edited. Any user can input text, photos, videos, exercises, study guides, assessments, notes, or highlights to their Flexbook. Flexbooks can be shared, for free, with user-created groups in print, online, by email, or on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Some Flexbooks are even available in Spanish and Hindi.

All Flexbooks conform to national and state curriculum guidelines, Common Core Standards, and can be re-aligned to International standards. Flexbooks are offered under the Creative Commons by Attribution, Share-alike, and Non-commercial license, removing many of the restrictions that limit distribution of traditional textbooks.[12] Most CK-12 Flexbooks are created internally by authors with teaching and domain expertise. Additional Flexbooks are acquired through university donations and licensing partnerships. CK-12’s current[when?] library of 88 downloadable Flexbooks can be accessed in PDF, ePub, and Amazon Kindle optimized format.[13]

The technologies used in creation of CK-12 Flexbooks are:[14]

• Django- Django is a web framework designed to simplify the creation and coding of complex, data-driven websites.
• MySQL- MySQL database is the world's most popular open source database.[citation needed] MySQL offers a wide range of database tools, training, support, and consulting services.
• Google Web Toolkit (GWT) - Used by many Google products, including Google AdWords and Orkut, GWT is a development toolkit used for building and optimizing complex browser-based applications. GWT is completely free, open source, and is used by thousands of developers around the world.
• Apache - Apache provides support for the open-source software projects."
flexbook  ck12  creativecommons  textbooks  education  curriculum  free  opensource  math  elearning  opencontent  tcsnmy  flexbooks  california  neerukhosla  muruganpal  open 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Understanding Algebra by James Brennan
"The complete contents of this algebra textbook are available here online. This text is suitable for high-school Algebra I, preparing for the GED, a refresher for college students who need help preparing for college-level mathematics, or for anyone who wants to learn introductory algebra. I am especially pleased to help homeschoolers."
math  tutorials  algebra  free  tcsnmy  learning  education  textbooks 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Wikijunior:Ancient Civilizations - Wikibooks, collection of open-content textbooks
"The target age of this title is 8-12 years old. Section titles will include major groups of people or substantial empires in ancient times. The print version will focus only on answering a specific series of questions about selected civilizations. There will be an introduction and a basic discussion of archaeology.
ancienthistory  ancientcivilization  curriculum  socialstudies  tcsnmy  classideas  reference  textbooks  encyclopedia  history 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Open Source Textbooks Challenge a Paradigm | Epicenter from Wired.com
"Flat World's business plan aims to exploit the inefficiencies: Its books are online and free. Instead of charging for content it aims to make money by wrapping content up in "convenient" downloadable and print wrappers and selling those, along with study aides and related items."
education  opensource  teaching  textbooks  economics  publishing 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Amazon To Target $5.5 Billion Textbook Market With New Kindle?
"Earlier this week Crunchgear broke the news on two new upcoming Kindle models: a smaller form factor Kindle to be released this year ahead of the holidays, and a large screen (probably 8.5×11) to come sometime next year. A couple of commenters in that post have pointed out that the large screen Kindle is perfect to target the college/university textbook market, a $5.5 billion market annually in the U.S. alone."
amazon  kindle  textbooks  education  ebooks  usability  business  books  markets  colleges  universities  schools  publishing 
august 2008 by robertogreco
brokenworld » About Our Class
"This online textbook is being created by Clay Burell's grade 9 Modern World History class in Seoul, South Korea"
wiki  wikis  classideas  history  online  internet  collaboration  collaborative  education  learning  curriculum  textbooks  cocreation  clayburell 
july 2008 by robertogreco
The Feynman Lectures on Physics Website
"to share information about The Feynman Lectures on Physics: *stories of how The Feynman Lectures on Physics influenced your life (or others') *physics/math problems and their solutions *URL's (links) relevant to The Feynman Lectures on Physics "
richardfeynman  physics  science  math  teaching  learning  textbooks  lectures  education 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Motion Mountain - The Adventure of Physics : The Free Physics Textbook
"Written in English, over 1500 pages are provided for students, teachers, and for anybody who is curious about the precise description of nature. To satisfy even the most extreme curiosity, the text ends by exploring the limits of time and space, and the
physics  science  free  books  education  reference  nature  elearning  pdf  e-learning  ebooks  textbooks 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Author Reinvents Science Textbooks as Lively, Fun Narratives - washingtonpost.com
""Story of Science" series by Joy Hakim tells the history of science with wit, narrative depth and research, all vetted by specialists at the MIT...series, which has drawn acclaim, chronicles not only great discoveries but also the scientists who made the
classroom  education  physics  textbooks  teaching  learning  students  literature  reading  homeschool  curriculum  science  classrooms 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Open Educational Resources
"OER are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course
courses  e-learning  education  learning  opencontent  opencourseware  opensource  pedagogy  textbooks  study  via:cburell 
december 2007 by robertogreco
TPRW Home
"The Process of Research Writing is a web-based research writing textbook (or is that textweb?) suitable for teachers and students in research oriented composition and rhetoric classes."
books  composition  writing  textbooks  research  howto  universities  colleges  reference 
april 2007 by robertogreco
Technophilia: Get a free college education online - Lifehacker
"You, too, can be an autodidact; the breadth of free educational materials available online is absolutely astonishing."
audio  books  children  class  directory  education  free  freeware  guides  history  reference  reading  research  science  technology  textbooks  tutorials  universities  materials  math  media  online  knowledge  internet  language  search  colleges 
september 2006 by robertogreco
jill/txt » fifth-grade maths books now teach spreadsheets
"I was leafing through my fifth-grader’s new maths book and was impressed to see that in a few months time she’ll be learning to use a spreadsheet!"
schools  books  textbooks  education  learning  norway  children  math  technology  spreadsheets  excel  jillwalkerrettberg 
september 2006 by robertogreco

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