Archive for November, 2008

Half my life is missing

I spent much of the evening surfing the net, trying to find information about various activities I was involved in in my teens and twenties (and even some of my thirties).  And, to my disappointment, I couldn’t find much of anything.  Half my life is missing!

Pretty much anything that has happened since 1995, I have excellent documentation on, if for no other reason than I have saved all my emails from that time.  That will lead me to names, events, dates, etc.  Then I can simply go to the Web for more information.  Any event, even rather trivial, that has happened in the last decade is well documented on the Web.

This got me thinking.  Perhaps I’m lucky that I lived more than half my life pre-Web.  Imagine being a college students and saying and thinking many not-so-mature things and having them on your Facebook or MySpace page and somebody finding them through the Internet Archive a few decades from now.  Thank goodness that everything I said and did as a college student is buried in the past!

On the other hand, it would also be kind of neat to have your entire life documented…

So, if any of you were at Grant High School, 1968-1971, Kresge College (UC Santa Cruz), 1971-1975, in the United Farm Workers (1976), or other things I was involved in (better not mention them here, get in touch!)

UPDATED: A great example of what happens when even a really smart person is a  bit too careless about his Facebook page.


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Found through Gmail

Dave Malinowski, one of the admins at UC Berkeley’s blog on language learning, culture and identity, Found in Translation (great title!), recently emailed me, telling me he had added us to their blogroll. I took a look at their blog, and wow. Go, read!

Click here for the blog Found in Translation.

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Digital literacy? Easy.

Charming YouTube star and 98-year-old actress Mae LaBorde establishes just how important digital literacy can be:

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Bye-Bye BlackBerry

It looks like Barack Obama won’t be sending email from the White House.

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One argument I have heard against implementation of technology in the classroom is how faulty technology is.  Teachers fear if a computer crashes they will lose all their data.  Let me share with you a story about my class last night:

Last week, Prof G (pseudonym to protect the awesome) was reminded that he scheduled class in his syllabus on Veteran’s Day.  He told the class that though the building would be closed, he hoped we would all still attend.  As the course is dense (and we are all naive first years), we consented to class on our day off.

On Tuesday in the late afternoon, I showed up to the building at the usual time for class. We began class promptly and had just finished passing out the handouts for the day when the lights and power go out (did I mention the classroom has no windows).  We all sat in the glow of my laptop (it’s statistics so everyone else brings paper) stunned for a second.   We all walked out to the windowed foyer and one of the women in the class called maintenance.

We pondered why the power was out for around 15 minutes until we all slowly decided that, well, the show must go on.  We collected our belongings and moved out into the foyer.  Prof G began to use the windows as his whiteboard and we sat on the ground or couches.  After a bit, two of the older students ran back into the darkness of the building and returned with a wheeled whiteboard.  Prof G changed his expectations for the syllabus as he raced against the coming darkness.

Fortuitously, as he finished the last set of notes for the new goal, the lights returned.  We took a break and reconviened in the more comfortable chairs in the classroom.  We easily finished the lecture for the night and were dismissed around an hour early.  In explaining this to my fiance when I returned home, he commented that this should be a poster with the caption Determination.

So, even in a classroom without computers, technology can fail, but even so, determination on the part of teachers and students can mean productivity continues.

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Water, water, everywhere.

Ever looked for a specific news clip or viral video and spent 10 minutes sorting through the results instead? Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on smarter video search engines: Beyond YouTube: New Ways to Find Video on the Web.

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Touch-screen technologies

I’ve been seeing a lot more of touch-screen technologies lately, partly due to the fact that our very own Melissa Kibrick brings her HP Tablet to class with her, and partly due to the mesmerizing electoral maps on CNN and CBS (SNL parody posted below). Then I stumbled across this recent gem:  Yes, that is an “interactive mirror” (read: large reflective iPod), created by Alpay Kasal and Sam Ewen. The patent is still pending on the product, but it made me consider all the other touch-screen technologies I’ve been seeing:

  • Apple iPod Touch and iPhone 
  • Graphics tablets and tablet PCs
  • Interactive whiteboards, or smartboards

But it’s not fair to call it a “new” technology either. Remember watching Jeopardy and seeing the contestants write down their final answers? As far back as the 1960s, light pens have been a touch-screen technology.

A short poll:


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Finding the Money

Education Weekly has an interesting article full of ideas for how schools can continue to afford their technology programs.  Open source is a highly touted solution to reduce expenses.  Are there any central resources that list open source resources for schools?

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So thanks again to Freakonomics for pointing me to a great article.  Edgar Johns of JobApp Network Inc., has found that for his company there are significant differences between white and minority applicants over the phone versus the internet.  They discuss that one cause of this could be access to the internet.  They also found similar patterns for younger and older applicants.  I would use this to argue that maybe it is not technology access, but technology savvy that leads an applicant to internet over phone applications.  This is a large problem as companies move toward internet-only based applications, as I know the UCs are (if they haven’t already).

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The Three R’s

In reading Freakonimics this morning I cam across one of their latest posts on The Three R’s.  The article shows a few great bits for commentary on learning and technology and the disconnect with schools.

First, the assignment is several questions on general knowledge.  The young girl’s first reaction is to open up her web browser to Google.  For her, general knowledge no longer needs to be stored in the brain, but can be retrieved in real time from a larger community brain.

Secondly, the girl’s answer to the Three R’s is recycle, reuse, reduce.  This is similar to an anecdote I once heard about a ESL student answering a word problem such as “What is two plus two?  How do you know that?” with a story about how he and his sister used to play house.  The story was used to illustrate the cultural assumptions inherent in the classroom.  Since this girl is obviously of middle class origin, her father being a regular blogger for Freakonomics, can we still blame cultural differences on her lack of understanding?  Is this a problem of generations or a problem of teachers being inculcated into a seperate “teacher culture”?

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