Happy Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess!

Better late than never, here’s wishing Happy 5th Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess of the provocative edublog What It’s Like On the Inside.

The Science Goddess once was a classroom teacher whose adventures in eduland made for humorous stories about the foibles of our stereotypical edutyrants and eduposeurs. Nowadays, with a doctorate about to be conferred, she often forces us to think of our grading and assessment practices that impact, sometimes with terrible irony, the success of our students in middle and high school.

The Science Goddess now works at the state level, but still finds time to share with us the fruits of her explorations into the frontiers of education as it may, and probably should be, in the next century.

Read The Science Goddess. Subscribe to her RSS feed. Your brain will thank you.

Hybrid eTextbook

eDGe eTextbook

This article from Saturday’s New York Times (online edition) reviews a device that seems to bridge the textbook utility gap between laptops and e-readers like the Kindle.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said that E-textbooks have special requirements that can be addressed by hybrids like the eDGe, she explained. “The devices have to render graphics faithfully, ideally with color,” she said, “and students should have the ability to take extensive notes and share them,” as well as have access to whatever interactive elements publishers provide.

Besides saving trees and reducing textbook costs (we hope), we may look forward to the increased well-being of students’ spinal health by eliminating the ubiquitous overweight backpack.

Google Book Project Almost There!

Today, we have an E-School News report that a settlement has been agreed upon, and now needs court approval.

Here’s some background…

Back in February of 2007, The New Yorker magazine ran a feature about Google’s intent to scan every book on the planet (the one’s in English to start with), and make a searchable database out of the verbal brew. The publishing industry had gotten up in arms about the perceived threat to its very existence and set out to block Google.

According to the E-School News report, the project is moving along.

The Google project would offer snippets of books to folks like us, researching from home or office, and full text to library patrons on site, free at the library. We at home or office, could, for a fee, read or buy the full text of in-print books, read out-of-print books, and  presumably, given state-of-the-art print-on-demand technology, buy out-of-print books that interest us. Imagine being able to search the entire printed universe…an infinitely beefed up version of Mortimer Adler’s Syntopicon that accompanied the Britannica Great Books of the Western World series.

If this sort of thing excites you, be sure to visit Project Gutenberg where you can download thousands of free books.

And while were at it, I used to lust after the entire Yale University Press publication of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Only $50+ per volume for many, many volumes. Even as a devoted teacher of American History, I could never figure out how to get that past my wife, Linda, the chancellor of the exchequer. (She may be the reason I’m not currently living in a cardboard box on skid road.)

Now Yale’s The Papers of Benjamin Franklin are free here. Go figure. But I’m definitely not complaining! (Thank you, Yale University Press!)

The E-School News requires registration to read the full article, but don’t worry, it’s free. You can get their stuff in your Inbox on a daily basis.

This is virtual culture shock even for a digital immigrant. 😉

Hot Opportunities — Free Webinars

Just got my catalog for professional development opportunities from ETS/ATI (the folks I presented for in Portland in December), and there are a couple of free webinars, one featuring Ken O’Connor on “grading for learning,” the other featuring Rick Stiggins on formative assessment.

The times are somewhat inconvenient but who knows what arrangements can be made by resourceful professionals!

I’ve heard both speakers present. They know their stuff and they are passionate about it.

Not Just For Podcasts

Part of my profile talks mentions the phrase “digital immigrants.” You’re looking at a Christmas present I got from my dearest wife. The latest stamp on my tech passport.

As Christmas drew near and she tired of hearing me say that I’d love a new Toyota Tundra, or desktop or laptop computer under the tree, I suddenly realized that podcasts had me trapped at my desk, listening to my computer, which is not really meant to function as a podcast receptor. Not mobile at all.

Hey, I said, how about an iPod Nano? Something small, low memory (how much do podcasts need?), with no moving parts. I’ll get mobile, use travel and wait time productively, and proceed a little further down the digital immigrant road!

Well, the Nano came with 8 gigs of memory. That’s a bunch. I thought the screen was for alpha-numeric display, but NO! It’s HDTV or something. And I can access video podcasts. Unbelievable. I downloaded and watched a NY Times Tech segment on mid-range digital cameras. Then I imported a file of fly fishing photos my son took of our trip to the Green River in Utah. Wow.

And I discovered the truly seductive aspect of this little demon device: music.

Yes, I’ve been away from the blog for a while doing year end books for two businesses, board work, preparing for the first Hillsboro Ski Club four-week session that starts Saturday, but I have to admit that I also spent two full days climbing the iPod learning curve and a lot more time trying to fill its memory.

But the music…transfer your digital files in any order and the device sorts the tunes by playlist, genre, composer, album, artist…you name it. I even flip through album covers if I want to access my tunes.

And I bought a little stand that sits on top of my wife’s JVC stereo set-up. The little stand plays the iPod through our receiver and speakers. Double wow. It’s like a fourth machine, but it’s not as big as a post-it note.

And I’m loving the Bob Marley (Three Little Birds, so sad if you saw I Am Legend), The Grateful Dead, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, 1812 Overture, Frank Sinatra, and on and on. (I’ll bet my wife never thought about the iTunes bill — at least I can cherry pick tunes, and I didn’t duplicate what we have on CDs!) 😉

Oh yes, I downloaded and subscribed to a bunch of podcasts. They’re free at iTunes and all over the net. My next task is to figure out Feedburner, so I can use it to get podcasts also.

Don’t worry…about a thing…’cause every little thing’s…gonna be alright. (Bob Marley)

Educational Technology That Works…

…is the title of a promising wiki (like I know so much about wikis, novice that I am) that is devoted to classroom instruction integrated with Web 2.0 (about which I’m still learning).

I’m excited for several reasons.

Marzano’s work — featured on the wiki — recognizes the convergence of education research and he emphasizes the practical application of the research.

This wiki may be a good model for the experimental Edubloggers wiki.

And most interesting of all, this wiki is an electronic version of six publications (plastic comb flip-books) that were put out by our district curriculum and instruction department back in 2000 to remind teachers of the main things to remember about the instructional strategies we were then beginning to promote: differentiated instruction; individualized instruction; cooperative learning; brain-based research applied to learning and instruction; multiple intelligence theory application; and assessment literacy (Stiggins, et al).

Those little books were fantastic — they are collector’s items now (for the geeks among us, anyway), but they were expensive and time consuming to produce. The wiki takes the place of all that and even spreads the joy of contributing around to whomever is willing and qualified.

All this discovery is total fun!

All of a Sudden, My Learning Curve Got Steeper

Just when I thought I was getting with the program and into smooth water, I read about all this… Not only do I have to worry about getting left in the behind, but the velocity of the learning curve is increasing and I’m wondering if I’ll actually gain on the pitch!

Check this stuff out:

21st Century Collaborative

Changing High Schools
21st Century Collaborative Wiki

Should I be alarmed? Should I go back to NY, where they’ve been ahead of the standards curve for, like, fifty years?

Nah. I’ll get a handle on it in the morning!