Tag Archives: education

old dusty books

The Debate Over Digital Textbooks Goes On and On

[W]hat’s going on here? A few things:

1) Most educators don’t know squat about IT. …
2) The management standards just aren’t there yet. …
3) The content makers privilege DRM protection over usability. …
4) The price is prohibitive. …

Debating the Digital Textbook Issue—Again « TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

The article looks at a couple of recent pieces on the ongoing debate about the actual value of digital textbooks. While I think there is a future in digital course materials, it is likely that the current models of providing digital textbooks are doomed mainly for the 4 reasons cited in the article.

I believe the future of digital course and learning resources isn’t in the poor replication of the print books on DRM locked proprietary platforms that place profit over education but in the creation of new all digital resources created with education and learning in mind, not investor profits.

MSFT Bing Launches Bing for Schools Pilot With Curriculum Ideas, Hardware Rewards, and No Ads

Today marks the official launch of Bing for Schools, a new initiative designed to improve digital literacy for students by putting technology in classrooms, helping students learn how to use the power of search, and making sure they can do it in a safer, ad-free environment.  We’re not only announcing our first partner districts for the search pilot program and taking requests from school administrators to join, but also expanding our commitment with new features in Bing for Schools that let parents and communities join in the effort to promote the development of digital skills, backed by a national ad campaign to raise awareness about the importance of digital literacy.

via Bing Adds Hardware and Curriculum for Schools, Subtracts Ads – Search Blog.

Sounds like a good program. Removing ads from search results presented to students is great because it removes a distraction that can really take away from the search experience. Searches earn points and points earn Surface RTs.

I hope this program makes it out of the pilot stage into wider release.

Not necessarily the best prize in the world, but in many schools every bit of tech is step in the right direction.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5

From The Front Lines: Peeking Inside a MOOC in Progress

For example, students have complained about not being able to complete in-video quizzes when they download the lecture videos. While our instructional team wanted to help them complete this work off-line—many students have very limited Internet access—we could not provide a way to do so. We pressed Coursera support-staff members for a solution, but they could not provide one.

My limited ability to make key pedagogical choices is the most frustrating aspect of teaching a MOOC. Because of the way the Coursera platform is constructed, such wide-ranging decisions have been hard-coded into the software—decisions that seem to have no educational rationale and that thwart the intent of our course.

via Inside a MOOC in Progress – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I suspect that this will not be the first time we hear from a MOOC faculty complaining about some sort of failure of the the tech platform. Something important here is that Coursera is commercial company and the platform is closed and proprietary. At least if this were an open platform like EdX or Canvas there would be a chance to add the features that the teachers need to educate their students as they see fit, not as some random engineer or developer tells them it needs to be done.

Google Play for Education Accepting Submissions

Google’s submission process requires all applications marked as suitable for K-12 to first pass through a network of non-affiliated educators for evaluation before then being measured against the Play for Education store’s requirements for classroom use. If selected, developer’s applications will be made available to the many pilot programs currently underway across the country

via Engadget: Google Play for Education now accepting developer submissions.

Google Play for Education is getting under way. Seems like Google is doing all the right things to make sure that the apps that get into the special store really belong there.

How About a Pastry Box Project For Legal Ed?

Every so often I find something on the Internet that is truly interesting and engaging. The Pastry Box Project is one of those things.

Each year, The Pastry Box Project gathers 30 people who are each influential in their field and asks them to share thoughts regarding what they do. Those thoughts are then published every day throughout the year at a rate of one per day, starting January 1st and ending December 31st. 2013′s topic is “Shaping The Web”

About – The Pastry Box Project

The result of this is a stream of daily posts on a given topic, this year it happens to “Shaping The Web” . Every morning there is something new. It might just be a 140 character thought, a single tweet. It may be 1000 words on some point of web design. Or it may be just about anything in between. No matter what the topic, it is one of those 30 voices, every morning. And the interesting thing to me is how those 30 voices merge to create a single tone for the blog. It’s that tone that brings me back every morning.

Of course it took just 2 or 3 days of reading for me to start thinking about the possibilities in this format. How great would it be to get 30 voices involved in legal education,a collection of deans, teachers, technologists, librarians, to participate in something like this? 30 individuals letting us know what they are thinking about, or doing, or tying to do on the topic of “Shaping Legal Education“. Everyday, one a day, for a year. I think that would be pretty cool.

The Pastry Box Project software is open source and is mostly a WordPress theme, which means it can be run just about anywhere, even added to CALI Classcaster. The editing interface is pretty straight forward and all posting is scheduled using the workflow tools baked into WordPress. The hard part is finding 30 voices.

I would suspect that a little leg work would turn up 30 folks interested in posting once a month for a year according to very fixed schedule. One of the great things about the Pastry Box from an editor’s point of view is that it is very predictable. The timing of (and deadlines for) posts from a specific person can be mapped out for the entire year. Everyone knows what is expected of them and when.

This time I’m just writing about the idea. I haven’t set up any software, just getting the idea out there (something I’m trying to more of).

What do you think? 30 individuals letting us know what they are thinking about, or doing, or tying to do on the topic of “Shaping Legal Education“. Everyday, one a day, for a year. Please use the comments to let me know if you’re interested in the idea, think I’m out of mind, etc.

 

 

CNN Money Takes Notice of Open Source Textbook Publishers, Misses eLangdell

Ideally, the major publishers, the free education players, and the open source firms will end up egging each other on, upping the ante at each step of the way, and ultimately benefiting students and teachers. After all, why cant it play out like the way open-source Linux helped propel advances from Microsoft MSFT and Apple AAPL? “I think there will always be what I think is a healthy relationship between publishers and the open-source world. They push each other forward. They challenge each other. Competition is good,” says Wiley.

via Startups are about to blow up the textbook – Fortune Tech.

Open educational resources get the focus in this article. CK-12 gets the most ink, while challenges to traditional publishers are nicely laid out. Articles like this are great because they bring info about OER to audiences that wouldn’t hear about it otherwise.

In the legal education arena, CALI‘s eLangdell project, especially the eLangdell Press , provides OER for law schools. eLangdell Press provides free and open access to over a dozen titles including casebooks, Federal rules, and statutory supplements.

Are Law Students Dumber? Law Profs See Damage Done by NCLB

One professor at a top-20 law school recently confided that he has to teach his students how to write business letters. A professor at another elite school complained that grading exams is far more difficult now because the writing skills of students are so deficient that each exam requires several reads. Bernstein’s article suggests that he knows what accounts for this—federal education policy. He  may be right.

Teaching to the test overshadows (if not supplants) teaching critical thinking, higher-order reasoning, and the development of creative-writing skills. As Bernstein emphasizes, contemporary teaching or teaching to the test does not “require proper grammar, usage, syntax, and structure.” In fact, those skills may be perceived as unimportant in this modern age—as many of the tests taken by K-12 students employ multiple choice, and those that require essays grade on a rubric that pays little if any attention to the quality of writing.

Law Professors See the Damage Done by ‘No Child Left Behind’ – The Conversation – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Something to add to the pile facing legal education today: students may not be as smart as they used to be. And that’s a problem because the law is more complex today than ever and requires extraordinary analytical and critical thinking skills. If you show up at law school lacking the necessary skill set, you will not do well.

As the father of 2 teenagers I can tell you that even in the best public schools “teaching to the test” is a great problem. Bright kids hit high school without a lot of writing and independent thinking skills and aren’t learning or even working on those skills there. I can certainly see where issues are going to come up in higher education as these kids move forward.

Be sure to read the comments following the Chronicle piece, there is some good stuff in there.

Dewald On Blending the First-Year Contracts Classroom At Utah

We wanted the students to watch the videos prior to class. Instead of spending 30 minutes lecturing about the Restatements and then discussing them, the students came to class prepared to do the discussion. This reduced the time necessary in class and also facilitated a deeper discussion.  The time savings was used throughout the semester for more in-class group work. In class time was constructed assuming the students had watched the videos.

via Law School Ed Tech – Blending the First-Year Legal Classroom.

This is a great article and information is carries should serve as an example to law schools on how things should be done. Aaron provides great detail on the background in setting up the contracts course, how the videos were created, and the results from surveying the students who took the course.

The playlist of videos is on YouTube.

Media Commons white paper examines future of transparency in peer review

The always-insightful Alex Reid has penned an essay “on the question of open peer review,” which examines a draft white paper posted to Media Commons last week. The paper—Open Review: A Study of Contexts and Practices—struggles, Reid argues, to address a critical question: “What is the problem with existing scholarly review procedures that the open review process seeks to solve?”

via New Media Commons white paper examines future of transparency in peer review | opensource.com.

 

A Book Is A Book And Other Thoughts On Our Webby Future

In February I wrote that every book is a website and we need to embrace the webiness of books. This led to some good discussion about the nature of books generally and casebooks in particular and about the nature of websites. The discussion helped clarify a couple of things in my mind.

First, though every book is a website not every website is a book. As I mentioned in the previous article, once a book is in an electronic form such as EPUB the process to make the book into a website is straight forward. That is not to say that it is easy, but that the path from EPUB to website is clearly marked. The reverse is not true. Moving a website to a book format such as EPUB is not straight forward and may even be impossible.

A website is a often a complex and carefully organized store of information. It may be fairly static, with a single information store arranged and hyperlinked for readers to discover. It may be interactive, drawing the the reader/visitor deeper into the site primarily through the use of hyperlinks to reveal or explain things. It may not even contain any text at all. The design of a website holds clues as to whether or not it can survive the transformation into a book.

Simple static websites are the best candidates for books. Information, often mostly text, is arranged in some sort of linear fashion. Links to outside sites are minimal. A single author or a small group of collaborators gives the site a particular voice. A blog is a good example of the sort of site that lends itself to being bookified.

Contrast this to a more complex and interactive site where the community contributes to the site or games are played or movies are watched. Information is arranged in a non-linear fashion. Links, both internal and external, abound. A multitude of authors, editors, and contributors all bring their voices to the site. Wrangling this into a book could not be done without destroying the value of the site.

This brings me to my second point, a book is a book. It does not matter if the medium is paper or bits, the form and structure of a book is still the same. Books have covers, title pages, tables of contents, chapters, notes (foot or end). The structure of a book is a known thing and the structure carries through all mediums. This is something that makes books unique. A book is a book in hard cover, paperback, on the Kindle, Nook and iPad, in the PDF file on your PC, and ultimately on the web.

Moving a book from print to electronic is not magic and it does not make the book better. The change in format just changes how readers access the book. If you want to make a “better” book, then build a website. Adding interaction and multimedia to a book are often valuable ways to enhance the information that is provided, but adding these enhancements are better done as website than a book.

Transforming a book into a website is the way to make a better book and destroy the book at the same time. Rather than spending time trying to shoehorn elements of a website into a book, we should let go of the book and embrace the web as the book of the future.