False Panacea

I ran across Jon Udell’s post on The once and future university which pointed to Mike Caulfield’s post with the video (Transcript).

Technology, I think, is a false Panacea. The role of information technology is to better aggregate information for whatever it is we do. Such aggregation draws disparate sources together, but the sources fail to fit together well which makes work with them more challenging. True, higher education in general lags behind by years, but there are individuals taking these new technologies and applying them to teaching. Not every technology helps students to learn just by using it. A DVD player, for instance, requires an educator to determine when to use it: what materials are applicable to the class, which students need to see it, are the students ready to comprehend the content, etc. Its not, “Oh, there is a DVD player in the classroom, so lets play anything.”

You might be thinking I am a Luddite. These kids were only online 3.5 hours a day. I am online 8+ hours a day including weekends! We like technology because it can be very useful. The students writes thousands of emails a years. Great! Now, what did they learn out of those emails? I’ve taken an email based class and boy was I confused by the end. Of all the classes I still refer to this day, that class is never one of them. Of course, I can say the same of many email discussions I am involved to this day.

There is no single piece of technology by which everyone will benefit 100% information comprehension in every use. Some people find the same piece intuitive while others will become bogged down by frustration in the lack of usability. I suspect part of this is in how people learn. I learned a long time ago, there were people I could email a set of directions describing what to do and they could do it. Others might need screen shots. Others might need someone over the phone or face-to-face speaking words about what to do. Some required doing it right that instant so the motor action of each click would become ingrained. So many disparate ways to comprehend creates a need for the same information to exist in many different forms.

The teaching assistant or professor lecturing on a topic adequately meets the needs for some students. Its been ironic to me educators and Educational Psychologists have been studying this for years and implementing fantastic solutions in K-12 classrooms, but in universities these solutions barely make traction. I have faith they will. Technical schools, private colleges, and professional education institutes make use of the solutions. Retention has become an important measure of university success. Universities have responded by attempting to fix everything but the ways content is learned. As students fail out of the universities and find success with these higher education alternative, these students the universities failed will have children whom they encourage to find an alternative.

Quotes to Make You Think

These also make great signature files! Additional collected quotes are under the blog’s quotes category. Drop a comment to suggest something.

Organized alphabetically by first major word.

Anonymous/Unknown Author

A

Accomplishing the impossible means only the boss will add it to your regular duties.

According to my calculations, the problem doesn’t exist.

Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and has started growing in the middle.

Advice is free: The right answer will cost plenty.

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the flame of a single candle.

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Always try to be modest. And be darn proud of it!

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

B

Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.

Blessed are the pessimistic for they hath made backups.

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.

C

Children may close their ears to advice, but they keep their eyes open to example.

A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.

Cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it’s stopped snowing.

A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory.

A company is known by the people it keeps.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Confidence is the feeling you sometimes have before you fully understand the situation.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

The customer is always right but not always pleasant.

D

Don’t be irreplaceable; if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Don’t hate yourself in the morning – sleep till noon.

Duct tape is a lot like the Force. It has a Dark Side, it has a Light Side, and it binds the galaxy together…

E

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Endeavor to so live that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Every time I think I’ve hit the bottom, someone lends me a shovel.

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lessons afterward.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

F

Few women admit their age, Fewer men act it!

A filing cabinet is where papers get lost alphabetically.

Four-word story of failure: Hired, tired, mired, fired.

G

Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.

Go the extra mile. It makes your boss look like a slacker.

A good test for conversation: if you wouldn’t write it and sign your name to it, don’t say it.

Good resolutions are often checks drawn on an account with insufficient funds.

The great essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

H

Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off NOW.

The Haves and the have-nots can often be traced back to the Dids and the Did-Nots.

The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.

How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand….

I

I don’t exaggerate. I just remember bigger than most people.

I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!

I have a mind like a steel trap – rusted open.

I haven’t lost my mind. It’s backed up on tape somewhere.

I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

If at first you don’t succeed, give up, no use being a damn fool.

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

If both of us thought alike, one of us would not be necessary.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

IF Pro is the Opposite of Con, What Is The Opposite of Progress? Congress!!

If you’re going in the wrong direction, God allows u-turns.

If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to… expect an answer you don’t want to hear.

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, what’s the point of making them?

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you were somebody else, would you want to be friends with you?

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

It has been determined that research causes cancer in rats.

It is harder to conceal ignorance than to acquire knowledge.

It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are most likely to be remembered.

It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.

It will do no good to get on the right track if you are headed in the wrong direction.

J

Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

K

Keep your ideals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.

L

Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express our thoughts, to conceal our thoughts, or to replace thinking.

Laugh alone and the world thinks you’re an idiot.

Leaders go down in history — some farther down than others.

Leadership has been defined as the ability to hide your panic from others.

Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate.

Life is complex: part real, part imaginary.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

M

Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.

The measure of man’s real character is what he would do it he knew he would never get caught.

The mistake a lot of politicians make is forgetting they’ve been appointed and thinking they’ve been anointed.

The more people I meet, the more I like my cat.

The more you know, the more you know you ought to know.

N

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

No matter how far money goes, it still can’t go as far as the next paycheck.

No matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

O

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.

One of the mysteries of life is how the boy who wasn’t considered good enough to marry the daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

One reason folks get into trouble is that trouble usually starts out being fun.

One trouble with the world is that so many people who stand up vigorously for their rights fall down miserably on their duties.

The only time the world beats a path to your door is if you’re in the bathroom.

P

People who do the world’s real work don’t usually wear neckties.

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first.

Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Practice makes perfect, so be careful what you practice.

A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.

The quickest way to get a lot of undivided attention is to make a mistake.

People who wonder where the younger generation is headed for would do well to consider where it came from.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

Q

R

The really productive ups and downs are getting up in the morning and down to work.

The reason we never see ourselves as others see us is that we’d never believe what we saw.

A reckless driver is a person who passes you on the highway in spite of all you can do.

S

Save time… see it my way.

Some people get lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory.

Some people spend the first six days of each week sowing wild oats; then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

A sure-fire formula for making a good speech: have a good beginning and a good ending–and keep them as close together as possible.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

A synonym is a word you use in place of one you can’t spell.

T

Tact is the ability to close your mouth before somebody else wants to.

There can’t be a crisis today, my schedule is already full.

There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.

There is nothing so comforting as the patter of little children’s feet about a home, because the moment the sound stops one knows that they are up to something they shouldn’t be.

There is nothing that upsets a person quite as much as having company drop in and see the house looking as it usually does.

There needs to be fewer Republican Senators and fewer Democratic Senators, and many more United States Senators.

Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself.

This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.

Those who complain about the way the ball bounces are usually the ones who dropped it.

Time may be a great healer, but it certainly is no beauty operator.

Trains stop at train stations
Buses stop at bus stations
On my desk is a workstation.

A true friend is one who thinks you’re a good egg even though you’re slightly cracked.

U

Usually I try to take it one day at a time, but lately several have attacked me at once…

V

W

Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

What most people want these days is less to do, more time to do it, and more pay for not getting it done.

When adults act like children, they are called silly. When children act like adults, they are called delinquent.

When computing, whatever happens, behave as though you meant it to happen.

When our children are old enough not to say or do anything in public to disgrace us, they have reached an age when the things we do and say embarrass them.

A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.

Why is ‘abbreviation’ such a long word?

Wild horses couldn’t drag a secret out of most women. Unfortunately, women seldom have lunch with wild horses.

With every right, there is a responsibility. Just once, I wish someone would demand his responsibility.

A woman wants one man to meet her every need. A man wants every woman to meet his one need.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t want. A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he DOES want.

Work is the easiest thing man has ever invented to escape boredom.

Work like you don’t need money,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
And dance like no one’s watching.

X

Y

Years wrinkle the skin, but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

You are only young once. After that, you have to think up some other excuse.

You can’t keep people from having bad opinions about you, but you can keep them from being true.

You cannot build a reputation on the things you are going to do.

You cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough.

Z

Misc.

Comment from a correspondent in Australia on the U.S. political scene: “Thank God you got the Puritans while we only got the convicts.”

Cell Phone Madness

In case you haven’t noticed, I have have a new cell phone. Give me a call if you have my phone number. Actually, if you can find the number, then I’d even more love for you to call. 🙂 If only to congratulate your mad skillz.

Back in December I read online Amazon had fantastic deals on cell phones with purchase of a plan. So I looked. It occurred to me I ought to be at the end of my 2 year agreement. I checked and sure enough I was. However, did I really want a new phone? What features did I want? Maybe I should switch carriers? The iPhone announcement surely didn’t help.

There wasn’t a straw. There wasn’t a deal. It just dawned on me that if I didn’t take the plunge right at that moment, then I probably would still be using the same old phone until I broke it. Maybe I’d even be that guy carrying a phone from 1985. in 15 years (assuming I didn’t break it). I did realize one of my apprehensions was visiting a store. So I looked online a couple times, dithered, and finally, I went with the Samsung SYNC.

New phone, new manufacturer, new menus, new features, new cables, new problems.

Problem 1: I made the move. AT&T’s web site didn’t say what would come in the box. Probably I could have found this out with some research. At the worst, I could have gone to the store. The whole point was to avoid the store. So, I ended up ordering accessories about an hour after getting the phone out of the box. Two of the three arrive today.

Problem 2: Profile timers are “teh win”. I am lazy. A feature I enjoyed of the candybar was the profiles could be set to expire at a specific time. So every morning I could set it to silent and expire after the end of the work day or after a movie.

Problem 3: Put MicroSD card in slot, try to format card, see “Error”. No, really. Just “Error”. What does THAT mean? I thought maybe the capacity of the card was more than the phone could accept. So, I looked on the web. Eventually, I did find that my card is of the right size and made by the right company, so it should work. Then I read that one of the cons of the phone is the springs have difficulty ejecting the card. Maybe they also had trouble in seating it? So I tried reseating it a couple times, eventually choosing to use a point object to push it more than in the slot. Bingo!

All that said, I am more than happy with my new phone.

Awesomeness 1: It feels right in my hand. The buttons are not made for 10 year old kids.

Awesomeness 2: The convenience of a camera in my phone.

Awesomeness 3: The brick contributed to the potentially illegal sagging pants.

Obscurity Obsolescence

Along the same lines as Lacey’s Travel and Usability post, libraries are not really designed to be very usable. Well… unless you think like a librarian. Who gets a MLIS degree in order to use a library. Okay… I would… bad example.

The below article’s Digital Natives are kids who have played video games all their lives. Its reporting on a talk given at an ALA conference that librarians should redesign libraries to be friendlier to these Digital Natives (aka more like video games). The strawman argument:

When ‘Digital Natives’ Go to the Library :: Inside Higher Ed:

“The librarian as information priest is as dead as Elvis,” Needham said. The whole “gestalt” of the academic library has been set up like a church, he said, with various parts of a reading room acting like “the stations of the cross,” all leading up to the “altar of the reference desk,” where “you make supplication and if you are found worthy, you will be helped.”

This similie is warped in my experience. When I worked the reference desk, I didn’t so much bestow books upon supplicants and demonstrate how to use the tools. In essence, it was like explaining to a friend who is stuck how to play the game. I had heard of libraries in which non-library employees are not allowed access to the stacks, but I thought them rare.

Maybe instead of librarians playing more video games, students who play video games should actually use those skills when they go to the library? They can master a university library by spending a couple hours a week for a month browsing, identifying patterns, and enjoying the fruits of their efforts: interesting books. For me, “research” meant skimming all books and articles on a topic and tangents to the topic. I could spend a year absorbing knowledge in a good library. Working in the library explosed me to such an enormous wealth of knowledge free for the asking.

Instead, students typically go into a library to find a list of books or articles. They want to spend the minimum amount of effort to accomplish the goal. This certainly is not how they approach video games.

OpenOffice Is Like Mikey

Remember the commercials for the cereal where the kids decide to give Mikey the stuff to see if he likes it? Someone sent me a WordPerfect document. Its been years since I got one of those. Office XP obviously doesn’t open it without scouring the Microsoft web site for the coverters.

Before subjecting myself to such propaganda, I thought, What about OpenOffice? Its open source, it should be able to open anything! Sure enough, it opened up the file! I keep meaning to make OO my default editor. I just don’t deal enough with Office documents except Excel to bother. Easily 95% of the files I directly edit are plain text files (logs, notes, SQL, scripts, etc.). None of those do well in a word processor which is for memos and letters.

Baby Factories

Wash. initiative would require married couples to have kids

An initiative filed by proponents of same-sex marriage would require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.

Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

“For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation … The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine,” said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. “If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.”

I know several married couples who have never had children. Denying a marriage license to someone because one party to the union could not have children would be quite horrible. This is all a stunt to force a debate as to what is marriage. All I can say is, “Bravo!”

Pick One

The difference a decade makes! I actually knew a couple other kids in school who were mixed growing up. Jimmy was part Spanish and part Black. I’m not sure what Eddie was. Some people still wanted me to pick one.

J2, my aunt, was very Afro-Centric. She decided that my white mother could not raise me to be Black. Therefore, she would help out my mom. She gave me books, talked to me about stuff, etc. One day we had the conversation. I told her I wasn’t Black. A picture of her face would be awesome! Eventually, I did convince her that I am mixed, not Black or White but something else. Something I would have to create for myself.

Lives – David Matthews – New York Times

In the hallway, on the way to class, black and white kids alike herded around me. Then the question came: “What are you?”

I was stumped. No one had ever asked what I was before. It came buzzing at me again, like a hornet shaken from its hive. The kids surrounded me, pressing me into a wall of lockers. What are you? Hey, he won’t answer us. Look at me. What are you? He’s black. He looks white! No way, he’s too dark. Maybe he’s Chinese!

They were rigidly partisan. The only thing that unified them was their inquisitiveness. And I had a hunch, based on their avidity, that the question had a wrong answer. There was black or white. Pick one. Nowhere in their ringing questions was the elastic clause, mixed. The choice was both necessary and impossible: identify myself or have it done for me. I froze, and said nothing — for the time being.

Videogames in the Classroom?

Yes!!

Videogames in the Classroom? – Newsweek Education – MSNBC.com:

Where parents see hours wasted in front of a screen, these scientists see potential. An FAS study released this week, titled “Harnessing the power of video games for learning,” reports that best-selling games are built in surprisingly pedagogical ways. Players improve at their own pace. Beating a level requires experimentation, failure and learning from mistakes. Most new games can be played online, requiring collaboration and leadership. Game play is precisely calibrated to balance challenge and progress. It’s a stark contrast to a typical classroom in which one teacher tries to engage 30 students with printed information. “It’s like hiring an individual tutor for every student,” says FAS president Henry Kelly of using videogames to teach. “There’s a big argument going on now about whether kids are being tested too much or too little. In a game, you’re continuously being tested and you don’t mind it.”

Admittedly, I agree that most games on the surface don’t appear very educational. Also, saying these things are there and measuring their effects are two different things. What are the negative side affects? C’mon people, hawking something without overwhelming evidence is pretty underwhelming. 🙂

TV Really Is Mind-Numbing

TV found to be a painkiller for children – Yahoo! News:

Sometimes the numbing effect of TV can be helpful. Especially if you’re a kid being stuck with a needle at the hospital. Researchers confirmed the distracting power of television — something parents have long known — when they found that children watching cartoons suffered less pain from a hypodermic needle than kids not watching TV.

Especially disturbing to the author of the scientific study was that the cartoons were even more comforting than Mom.

While it’s good to have a powerful distraction for children getting painful medical procedures, it is also troubling “because we have demonstrated the excessive power of television,” said chief author, Carlo Bellieni, a father of three and a neonatologist and pediatrician at the University of Siena in Italy.

Its not just kids. After my surgery last August, I found that watching TV help distract from the pain. Maybe not as effectively as the morphine, but somewhat close. The morphine could run out and TV would keep me distracted for another 1/2 before I’d notice unless there was nother distraction.