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April 5, 2006

Class Blogging: Week 11: 2

This is a makeup entry from last week about LAYERS OF NECESSITY.

I think LAYERS OF NECESSITY pretty much describes how I like to go about most projects - I like to do the MUST first but then I sometimes do a COULD rather than a SHOULD. LAYERS seems like a more responsible way to do RAPID PROTOTYPING in that there are some rules and some ultimate timeline so that you always have production in mind but it's not so constrained that you can't ever get to the fun of doing the COULD while also taking care of the MUST.

Of course, people may think I am something of an oaf in that I find the SHOULD sort of irritating sometimes - unlike MUST, a SHOULD makes me want to ask, "well, who said?"


Class Blogging: Week 11: 1

Role playing and case studies -

In the past, I never was a fan of role playing or case studies but I am beginning to enjoy it in this class and I am surprised. And I think I am learning something through these exercises. I think one thing that can be attributed to this role playing and case study approach is that I can more quickly read and identify the issues in a particular case study than I could when I began the class. I know this seems like a DUH but I am learning.

I don't think I would have had the patience for this approach 20 years ago. I don't think I was as convinced about the importance of relationships then as I am now. In fact, I was pretty uninterested in thinking about relationships at all. I was interested in having relationships but not really thinking about them - there is a difference.

I think there is also something about patience and a commiment to inductive reasoning. And the role playing and whole case study piece is an inductive sort of process - I have to pay attention to detail and search for a whole within the details rather than seeing a whole and then looking for the details.

Perhaps this case study/inductive reasoning/role playing approach has something to do with the sense in the field that there is no one ID model but many - the field does have a body of scholars who are thinking about these questions and trying to identify processes that are helpful, comprehensive, inspiring but it's an inductive approach to a discipline that was - perhaps - founded on a model that tried to provide or was being asked to provide a dedutive model: Dick and Carey specifically.

March 28, 2006

Class Blogging Week 10:1

As regards to class last week, I think I really liked Keith for about the first 45 minutes. I found the 4:1 production time and the 25:1 production time to be very interesting measures. For Psych 1001 it takes about 4:1 production time for posting daily lectures - which is about 1 hour of education/training modeled much like Keith's SME lectures.

I thought the ID model went well and I too thought the airplace exercise worked well.

And the Target pill bottle redesign was great. I wenjoy hearing about the designers themselves - it really is good to get that info. Those stories are so interesting and telling.

March 17, 2006

Class BloggingWeek 8:1

Like some others in class, I too missed the reading assignments for class. I kept checking the READINGS section on WebCT as a follow up on Aaron's comments in class but somehow missed the links on the CLASS SCHEUDLE page.

I really liked the Patricia Deubel article for its comprehensiveness and its level of detail. As an overview of the theoretical work in the field, I found the article to be very informative. It has a couple of great checklists to consider in putting together educational multimedia and I will return to them in my work.

I was not very taken with the use of the behaviorist vs constructivist framework for discussing the theoretical work. Although I understand how disciplinary battles emerge, I do not find it very helpful to appraoch learning all of these new theories within a broader, dualistic framework. It would be like being a political novice and learning about US politics as if we could talk about stable groups like liberal and conservative, right and left . . . what does one do with all those authoritarian environmentalists or those free loving libertarians . . . Maybe I will feel differently when I run into similar discussions in other ID courses.

I did like the overview of the ID field in the RWID book - the historical overview that discussed how ID belongs to a corporate/military past, how ID became more central to education in the 1980sand 1990s with the spread of the personal computer, and how today we are dealing with these different historical, institutional influences.

March 1, 2006

Class Blogging Week 7:1

As this is my first education class ever, I am learning quite a bit about distinguishing between certain words. For instance, I like Leonard's quick little distinction between "instructions" and "instruction" -

I also appreciated Aaron's 20 minute discussion about "fish is fish" and how constructivism is a theory of learning rather than a theory of instruction. So, it seems that we should talk about a science of learning and teaching rather than just a science of learning. I was hoping for something more concrete though in terms of thinking about the specifics of learning. I am very interested in learning about how people learn and what sort of instructional techniques are helpful with what sort of students in what sorts of situations - I guess I am interested in learning about teaching.

Through my project I am interested in learning what the latest research is on where young adults are at in terms of cognitive development. I think having some more grounding in ed psych will be helpful.

As I mentioned in class, the case study last night seemed much less intractable that the case study form last week. After having spent some more time thinking about the differences, I have a couple of other ideas: Craig did not actually have to get anyone to do anything like the tech teacher did. Craig could "jazz" up the training done by legal and walk away. The tech teacher actually had to motivate over 30 people to perform some sort of technical feat and over 30 more to perform even more complex technical tasks. This is a lot to expect. The other piece that is different is that Criag is a consultant rather than an employee . . . presumably, the Electron company is but one client while the school is the tech lady's whole job. Lots more stressful I think . . .

February 26, 2006

Class Blogging Week 6: 2

Class last week went by very quickly.

I especially liked the "jigsaw" groupings for Scott, Stephanie and Jill's case study. It really worked well. I got to play the part of the principal and I really got into it. I would like to take a step back from the role being so fun to consider the real decisions and the real resources that the principal had at hand to be able to try to deal with the demands his school was under - raising test scores and bringing recalcitrant faculty into the fold on technology use.

I do think that the first steps he needs to take are to come clean that he has blown it by not taking up technology himself, by waiting until the Fall to call a meeting about these training issues, and by suggesting that the tech money be used for undesignated purposes. He has made a lot of mistakes already as a leader. But, let's assume, that he does a "mea culpa" and somehow his staff agrees to give him the benefit of the doubt on his being serious about short and long term reform this Fall.

What is of an even greater problem for the principal is that he does not seem convinced that in the long run, greater integration of technology into instruction will support student learning. I expect - given that it's a high school - that computer assisted instruction could work because it is a) motivating, b) individualized, c) easily monitored. So any good policy implemented now is in the long run interest of the students. But the principal needs to internalize this message and make it part of his leadership or else the recalcitrant employees will only gain implicit support for their inactiivty.

There are so many pieces to the puzzle but the one I want to focus on is my suggestion - as the principal - to not worry too much about Phil and spend time and energy on less obtuse and more ammendable staff. Others saw this as a bad thing to do and I'd like to spend a minute to explore the pros and cons.

It seems like it's a question of how to weigh best practices against real world contraints -

The best practices approach:
1) As a leader it's important to implement programs that are equitably applied and that the expectations are the same for all staff. This is important for a number of reasons - it shows that you are serious about the importance of the training itself, it shows that you are going to be consistent and judicious in leading your staff, and such a stance lends more authority and integrity to the people who will be running the program as they will not have to play a guessing game about who is going to be included and who is not.
2) It is also just good for the reluctant staff themselves. Technology can be a very good thing. I would bet money that the lives of both my 85 year old grandfather and my 78 year old father-in-law have been extended, enhanced because they both discovered the internet, email, photos of grandkids as older men. In fact, my father-in-law decided to take the plunge and get a computer a couple of years ago because he felt that he might as well hang it up intellectually if he did not. Now he has purchased a laptop and has a wireless hub at his home. This is a good thing and if the principal can help direct staff to help Phil get over some of his anxiety and learn about computing then that too is a good thing.


Real world constraints:
1) Depending on how the principal presents it, he could really go out and support the novice/etc. training but also give a clear message that he understands that the staff has a lot to do raising test scores and that he wants to work with people in meeting the requirements of the grant for keeping their funding but that he wasn't going to be overly strict. In this sense, he supports the training but is also announcing that he recognizes that the staff is under a lot of pressure and that he doesn't want to add to the stress.
2) At some points there are real limits to the resources people have to get the job done - the question will always be where are the corners cut, who makes due with less, how do we distribute the costs as well as the benefits of our work. Obviously, the principal has an enormous job: he has to address why his students do not have the reading and math skills needed to pass their tests. Should he direct his support staff to focus on those teachers who in the end may have a greater impact throught their use of technology on students? Or is the best practices approach more meaningful for broad staff morale and buy-in? It's really a Marxist moment - it's about how to distribute limited resources to the benefit of all.

How would I personally make the decision? I would have made sure that all teachers became novices in the first year of the project. I know, I know - it's a copout answer but I bet half of all problems facing our world today could be better handled if we did some good planning - family planning, city planning, career planning, long-range planning, multimedia design planning . . .

February 20, 2006

Class Blogging Week 6: 1

Blogging before class:

I just wanted to make a note of my initial response to the Peslak article.

I think it's unrealistic to measure student performance on standardized tests against money spent on technology and make any sense of the results, either pro or con, especially at this stage of the game.

First of all, I think there has probably been a lot of money spent on technology in the public schools my children attend but I think that their technology implementation is so far below acceptable that - frankly - it really hasn't mattered one way or another if they had technology in their school or not.

But - then again - my kids have great access to computing at home. We have a wireless network and we all have our own machines except for the two littlest who share.

The problem with the amount of technology in my children's school is that there is not enough or enough support to really make it effective - no real chance to do Polar Husky in any meaningfull way, little chance to do much -

Furthermore, I don't think that math and reading scores are really the point of integrating computing into schools - is it?

February 15, 2006

Class Blogging Week 5: 1

It has been such a long day that I can barely remember last night and what happened in class. Think - we finished the discussion about Denny, we looked at Polar Husky and we talked about Carla and her challenges to integrate technology and a more constructivist pedagogy into the school where she works.

Denny: I felt sorry for the guy. It seemed as if the class was willing to put the onus of getting this project right onto him without questioning the prof's approach to the whole project. It's sort of a bummer but one thing that I feel like I've learned over the course of my work life is that sometimes there will be those people who are in positions of power who want something done, some product made, some project initiated but they have no clue as to what the project entails - and they are unwilling to listen, unwilling to identify resources, AND they are willing to tolerate mediocre work. So, a whole lot of talking, project planning, and wheel spinning happens.

It will not matter how brilliant Denny is or what a convert to constructivism he is - if he doesn't match the prof's incredibly ambiguous, perhaps ever-moving definition of what she wants to have happen, then he's sunk. For instance, she claims to do most of the work in one-on-one face meetings after investing a lot of observation time. This is hard, if not impossible to capture unless she herself is willing to sit down and articulate some of the parameters. Consider how hard it was for us to discuss the line between didacticism and constructivism - how much, where are we on the continuum - if it is indeed a continuum, in what contexts, for what age groups, etc.

Given unmotivated science teachers presenting material they don't know to middle school students would do better *on average* with more structure and less room - maybe the prof's constructivist curriculum needs its own continuum so that teachers can "opt in" where they feel that they can be most effective -

And, of course, I could be all cranky about the Denny story because I really found the Colburn article very frustrating. From this one article - granted I have not considered Colburn's oveure - it seems to me that he has very little understanding, interest, appreciation for human development. In Psych 1001 we show this great little video clip of the developing cerebral cortex from age 4 to 21. What we know about brain development and the ability of people to form judgments really calls into question an educational perspective that depends on the dismantling of one belief system to be replaced by another. Although I understand the philosophical point being made that people's perceptions of the world really are re-formed by learning a different point of view, I guess I just don't understand how this is occuring on the level of new synapses being wired together. I don't think it is and, if learning is about wiring, which I think it is, I find it hard to relate.

One of the best books I've ever read in my life is *Descartes' Error* by Antonio Damasio. And, I loved it, because it gave me a scientific means of understanding how our concept of "reason" is truly tied to the biological processes of our body - hormones and the endocrine system and so on.

And I am way off subject and I have to go read with my daughter - Ralph S. Mouse is the book of the evening. Maybe I'll try to make sense tomorrow.

February 8, 2006

CLass Blogging Week 4:1

Although I have a million things to say about the conversation around large lecture courses that erupted last night in class, I have the energy right now to focus on one particular piece of it rather than a more global response: So this particular blog entry is about one piece of the discussion: core knowledge.

In the discussion last night regarding the possibility of there being such a thing as an effective large lecture course, I used the phrase - "core knowledge" - to push the conversation further than whether or not large lecture courses are good or bad. I used the term "core knowledge" because I know Mr. Hirsch's phrase is incendiary in some circles and I think it goes to the core of some of the criticisms that people have of more didactic approaches to education such as the large lecture.

I assume that all educators define learning as something beyond rote memorization, something that includes the facts as well as the whys of the facts. Why is the formula for the area of a triangle 1/2bh, not just that it is. In my gut, I think (and - as Antonio Damasio's research shows - being able to reason depends as much on your gut as it does on your cerebral cortex) learning depends greatly on working with, playing with, practicing, constructing ideas. And, I know with that same guttural instinct, that learning also requires patient, methodical, rote, persistence in absorbing the dry facts that make up the current episteme. Mr Hirsch discusses the importance of and tensions between the hard discipline of getting down the facts and concepts and the romanticism of articulating them, undoing them, combining them anew to create revolutions in thought.

Core knowledge is essential and students deserve a thorough, well-rehearsed, thought provoking introduction to the core knowledge of their fields when they begin college. They deserve to be told what the current practitioners consider to be the essential facts, the important methods, the salient studies, the meaningful points in history. And I think large lectures can do this very well - and efficiently which is fodder for another post. It may not be the only way but I think it is a very, very good way.

One of the main themes that runs through Psych 1001 is how psychologists in the myriad subfields practice the scientific method. Students are introduced to the essential information that is necessary for them to understand why psychologists are asking the questions they are and what they are learning in their research. This "core knowledge of the discipline" includes lectures on research methods, the biology of human behavior and consciousness, learning, human development and memory, as well as lectures on behavioral genetics and absnormal psychology. The lectures are given by senior faculty in the field and they explicitly refer to real tensions between various researchers and how these tensions play out in how research is conducted.

One of the primary ways in which faculty lectures are structured is a review of the major studies in the field which have contributed to the current state of the discipline - what has gone into the creation of "the core knowledge" - so, in a sense, the lectures are discursive in that students are being required to learn not only what the core knowledge is at this time but also how such knowledge has been produced.

The point of Psych 1001 is to introuduce students to the field of psychology as currently practiced and to the core knowledge as it is currently understood. I consider the lecture format in which some of the major players in the discipline today stand up and talk for a couple of hours on the most fundamental points of their field of research and how their field has become what it is today is an excellent means of introducing a student to the field of psychology and how it is currently practiced.

These lectures are the stuff of "core knowledge" that the students will need to know and understand as they take up questions of their own in their time at the U and beyond.


February 5, 2006

Class Blogging Week 3: 2

One of the most insightful comments I heard last week was Leonard's discussion of how the rapid prototyping model and the spiral model were more alike than different in comparsion to the ADDIE model . He noted that rapid prototyping/spiral were distinct from ADDIE in that they were more recursive, coming back again and again to different steps of the ID process - definition, development, etc. ADDIE is helpful in that it clearly identifies the myriad of issues, people, deliverables,constraints that come into the ID process

Personally, I find all of this discussion about these different ID models to be very helpful as I am beginning to learn what the important questions and concerns are in doing ID. I think I can better articulate the different competing demands that come up in the projects that I am working on.

The first time I read about ADDIE I was sort of relieved in that I have been working in a situation that ADDIE aptly outlines without the knowledge that there were means of assessing what was up. To have some perspective on what I am doing is very helpful- if a little daunting.

Class Blogging Week 3: 1

The discussion about constructivism vs didacticism was helpful in terms of identifying the boundaries of the current discussion around how people learn for those of us who are not education students. But, the conversation also raised a million more questions for me about the current state of the research about learning and so I remain a little outside and sort of skeptical about the clear prejudice in the class for constructivism.

This sort of spilled over into my decision making process around my final project for class. At a work meeting last week, I made a proposal that the Dept of Psych and other academic departments work together to create a common platform for delivering large introductory undergraduate courses to high schools in Minnesota. The platform would be a hybrid course - online lectures delivered by senior faculty here at the U and streamed to area high schools and supplemented with lab activities and further learning supports provided by K12 teachers in the classroom.

Yep, I am going to follow up on this for my final project for this course. I am also going to pursue this because my other idea that I discussed in the small group last week really is not focused enough yet to make much sense as a project.

Yet, this online lecture model is so obviously full of didactical elements that it seems like I'm just setting myself up to fail because I'll spend my time developing a project that seems suspect from the beginning.

But I like to listen to the lectures and I have learned a lot by supporting the online version of PSych 1001 that we currently provide to undergraduates. So, I guess, part of the challenge here is to develop a way of delivering this product that will try to answer some of the concerns that people have when we start talking about large lecture courses.

Furthermore, I cannot see any other way around providing quality content that leverages the resources of the U in providing advanced instruction for MN high schools than something like my project at a reasonable cost without significant alteration of what U professors are currently doing - and the institutional change is going to be difficult enough that we need to figure out some means of easing the transition.

So, I'll just have to figure out the best product can be developed under the circumstances.

January 28, 2006

Class Blogging Week 2: 1

Well, I am sitting in a gymnasium at Benilde St Margaret's at the State First Lego League Tournamnet and I am thrilled to find that the journalism department is running an insecure wireless network. Yeah! I can spend the day online, doing work, as well as cheering for the teams from Seward Montessori!!

The tournament is great! They have four competition tables setup with four big screen projections so that the audience can see what is happening. They're playing LOUD upbeat music during the 2.5 minute rounds when the kids are frantically working with their robots to successfully get them to perform the tournie tasks. It's great!

So, what about class?

Like Positive Pete said in his blog, Lonnie's suggestion that the end users should be consulted was the best suggestion of the night: it would be a way for Pedro and Jennie to focus on something other than their own experiences. If they established some focus groups they would have an opportunity to figure out some effective strategies through interviews. Also, I think asking some focus groups to look at some rapid prototyping examples of possible online pieces - including those with hot cognitions - would be a good approach: maybe getting themselves out of themselves for awhile.

Continue reading "Class Blogging Week 2: 1" »

January 18, 2006

Class Blogging Week 1: 1

Previously, I ran a blog called CHOOSING PUBLIC EDUCATION that was run as a site for parents in Minneapolis Public Schools to learn more about what was happening district-wide than they were getting from other sources. I developed a small readership - a couple dozen people - but shut the blog down when a Yahoo Group aimed at the same audience proved to be much more successful. I had asked other parents to co-author the blog with me but the semi-public nature of blogging and the need to use an authoring tool other than email was just too much.

Anyway, I say all this because I am more familiar with blogging as in journalism rather than in journalling.

I am also a little confused about audience.

Continue reading "Class Blogging Week 1: 1" »