24 March 2014

Items to Share: 23 March 2014

Education Focus
  • On Obedience [Harry Webb] 'A new school is about to open in London. The Michaela Community School [...] is controversial [...] It will be following what could be described as a traditionalist set of principles. I sincerely hope that it will do so successfully and that this will provide the proof-of-concept for traditionalist education that the free schools programme promises to deliver.  [...] As part of their preparations, Michaela released their educational vision. I find it most fascinating. However, I think we have an indication of what is to come in the reaction on Twitter to one little sentence, “We will expect our pupils to be polite and obedient.”'
  • researchED UK: Teachers are doin' it for themselves [Tom Bennett] Bennett set up a conference on research in education last year, and it's expanding this year: 'I had no idea how successful the conference would be, but then I had no idea how much of an appetite there was for teachers to become involved in research, to be active participants in its inception, investigation, and execution. I thought it was just me – it wasn't. There was a whole army of edunerds and numbers-fetishists, empiricists, sceptics and weary practitioners, labouring out there under the yoke of 'research proves', when it bloody well didn't. [...] We sold our 500 tickets in a month, and curated a waiting list that eventually rose to three hundred. Some of the best names in UK education and beyond queued up to help. It was a real grassroots event, and six months later, I'm still reeling. [...] So we decided to see how far it would go. Which brings us to researchED Birmingham, on 5 April, the first in a series of national mini-conferences – a tour, if you will – that will take the concept everywhere that people want it.'
  • Should we do away with 'dyslexia'? [theconversation.com] 'No-one is denying the reality of children’s reading difficulties, or that these need to be identified and treated as early as possible. What is in question is whether we should give the label of “dyslexia” to children with reading difficulties. [] It is important to note that reading ability falls on a continuum in the population; it is normally distributed like height or weight. Thus, deciding whether a child does or does not have dyslexia will always involve applying an arbitrary cut-off.'
    • ZCommunications » On Academic Labor 'an edited transcript of remarks given by Noam Chomsky via Skype on 4 February 2014 to a gathering of members and allies of the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, PA.
    • Time Estimates for E-Learning Development '[...] let’s say a client asks me to convert an existing full day training program to self-paced e-learning. This will be mostly linear with some interactivity and a branching scenario practice activity. A “full day” or training in this case means 6 hours of actual content. The content itself is in pretty good shape; there’s slides, a participant guide, and a facilitator guide, and it’s all fairly complete. There’s no video, only limited animation [...] and professional voice talent will be used. [] I’m going to assume this can be compressed to about 3 hours of e-learning. [...] [based on the research]  the ratio for development is 127:1 (that is, 1 hour of e-learning takes 127 hours to develop). For 3 hours, that’s 127 * 3 or 381 hours total work.' A sobering guide to time and costs.
    Other Business
    • FiveThirtyEight | What the Fox Knows [fivethirtyeight.com] Introducing Nate Silver's (The Signal and the Noise) new site on using and evaluating the data behind news. Thus, one story: FiveThirtyEight | Finally, a Formula For Decoding Health News 'To keep on top of the right health information [...], you don’t necessarily need to know about medicine. What you do need to know is how to use data to make health decisions. As a statistician, I use a simple computation based on Bayes’ rule to combine my gut feeling about a piece of health news with information about the study it comes from. The result gives me a better idea of how much to believe a given headline. [] This is not a definitive way to tell whether a headline is right [...] but I find it a pretty useful exercise.' The method works for educational headlines too. And it is essential to evaluate any headline in the Daily Express!
    • When March blows [thedabbler.co.uk] 'two poems about hanging out the washing…'  
    • The Evolution of Aww – Percolator The Chronicle of Higher Education 'We live in the golden age of cute. As one scholar recently put it, cuteness has become a “dominant aesthetic category in digital culture.” Hard to argue with that. Even if you steer clear of toddler pics on Facebook, even if you’ve never clicked on Reddit’s popular “aww” category, your elderly former neighbor will still email you a random photo of, say, three adorable piglets peeking out of a coffee mug.'  

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