Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TwitterArchive: Corporate EdReform - Motivations?

TwitterArchive: Corporate EdReform - Motivations? (from 26-November-2010, 28-November-2010):

RT: W/the US DOE's budget on steroids & venture 'philanthropists' dangling $, are we moving towards a nationalized education system? #edchat

Billionaire Boys' Club & #EdReform: What's in it for them? What's their real motivation? /cc @DianeRavitch #edchat #education

Billionaire Boys' Club #EdReform Motivations: Privatization/Profit? Destroying (Teacher) Unions? Nationalization? /cc @DianeRavitch #edchat

@jmvarner #1 destroy teachers unions (see W4S); #2 private sector always knows best; #3 it's good to be the king (Mel Brooks).

Do #EdReform-ers want real #Education & Learning or just Training for Subservience & Order-taking? /cc @DianeRavitch @TeacherReality #edchat

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Movies & TV shows about Teachers & Students

Below is a short list of movies and TV series about teachers and students that I have watched and recommend.  Note that many of these may be difficult to obtain in the US, as they are either International productions or are otherwise not "mainstream" -- but they all have very good messages about education, schooling, teaching, or the social relationships among students. Enjoy!

Movies/TV series about Teachers:

The Class (2008)  (French)

High School (1968)

Please Sir! (TV Series 1968–1972) (United Kingdom)

Movies/TV series about Students:

Aliens in America (TV Series 2007–2008) (US)

For You in Full Blossom (TV Series 2007) (Japanese)
(Original Japanese Title: Hanazakari no Kimitachi e)
(Closing Theme Song -- "Peach": http://youtu.be/47yK8VOHQ0s )

Once Up on a Time in High School (International English title) (Korean)

Mean Girls (2004) (US)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Slumdog Millionaire," Education, and the Standardized Test

The story of the film “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) is structured as a back-and-forth juxtaposition between the informal, non-standardized “life” learning of the central character and the concept of objective, multiple-choice 'testing' as a criteria for success in an economy characterized by a neo-liberal ideology. The reward for passing this test – which, in the film, is the Indian version of the game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire – is a literal fortune in cash, enough to raise even the poorest "slumdog" Indian out of poverty and into a life of meaning and value.

Analysis of the film really gets interesting when we ask the following question: What form of education has the greatest capacity for preparing someone (e.g. the film's protagonist) to correctly answer the multiple-choice style “exam” questions that comprise the heart of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? Is it a focused program of formal study of the types of material likely to come up on the exam/game show? Not in the case of the film, which suggests that the life story, or "life learning" of the main character -- the formative experiences that he had throughout his childhood and teenage years -- had a powerful impact on how he learned to make meaning of the world as he experienced it in the flashback scenes. It is these "life learned" meanings that, at crucial moments (such as the unlikely scenario of being a contestant on a game show!) are what we will remember and what will best equip us to deal with the situations of life that we face as these situation arise. Our formal educational experiences (as with those of the young protagonist and his brother, briefly depicted in the film) are often memorable for the sense of incompleteness, confusion, and unanswered questions that they leave behind (e.g. "What is the name of the third Musketeer?").

An additional message can also be found in a careful analysis of “Slumdog Millionaire,” regarding the role of motivation and reward in relation to high-stakes standardized testing (which, in the film, is represented by the questions on the game show, and the million-dollar prize that is at stake for answering them all correctly). The “reward” offered for answering the questions correctly – in both the game show and, in big-picture terms, (arguably and ultimately) with high-stakes standardized testing in our schools – is material comfort through financial security in an economic system dominated by the need to have monetary resources to represent one's value to society. The film's protagonist, however, in addition to having a radically different form of 'exam preparation' (as discussed above), also has a radically different motivation for wanting to take the exam (i.e. participate in the game show) and to progress as far as he can and answer correctly as many questions as possible. His motivation is not the financial security represented by the reward offered in the game show's title. Rather, the protagonist's motivation transcends the immediate reward structure of the game show, replacing it with and using it as a vehicle for reaching a more personal, and more 'human' goal -- reaching out to a long-lost lover. In this regard, he subverts the formal, stated objectives of the game show/high-stakes standardized test, and uses the structure and “space” that the game show offers as a platform for acting on his own values and internal motivations.

Question for Reflection and Application: In regards to schooling and high-stakes standardized testing, how can we apply the messages of “Slumdog Millionaire” to our own practice in the field of education?

(Edited and Revised on 14-November-2010)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TwitterArchive: EdReform by the Numbers

TwitterArchive: EdReform by the Numbers (from 10-November-2010):

Business's bottom line=Numbers ($). Corporate #EdReform's bottom line=Numbers (Test Scores). Coincidence? I think not! #edchat @DianeRavitch

.@EdReformPR: If it can't be counted, then it doesn't count! Numbers -- cold, hard numbers, like 17 or 92 -- THAT is the heart of #EdReform!

.@EdReformPR: #EdReform is abt respecting Numbers.If my thermometer reads 43,I don't ask, "Yah, but on what scale?" It's 43,darn it! #edchat

#EdReform is about respecting Numbers: Test scores & data. Bigger = Better. Who wants 1 measly dollar bill when you can have *99* pennies?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TwitterArchive: "The Social Network" (2010)

TwitterArchive: "The Social Network" (2010) (from 28-October-2010):

#MovieReview: "The Social Network" (2010) [3.5/4] College life. Elitism/$. Real "education". Some great/funny dialog. 3D characters. #movies

After watching "The Social Network," I have more sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg (couldn't stand him b4) &yet even less desire 2 use @Facebook.

"The Social Network" portrays @Facebook as what I ultimately think it is: An unhealthy tool 4 social status competition. #Facebook #college

The rapid growth of @Facebook as depicted in "The Social Network" reminds me of the rapid spread of an infectious virus ("viral"). #Facebook

By opening up @Facebook to virtually everyone, it is no longer the "exclusive" club it's portrayed as in "The Social Network". #Facebook #FB

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TwitterArchive: Charter Parenting & Charter Family (Parody)

TwitterArchive: Charter Parenting & Charter Family (Parody) (from 19-October-2010):

#EdChat Friends: Act now & get in on the latest wave of the "charter" mvmnt - Charter Parenting - by opening your own CharterFamily! #parody

Manage a dynamic Charter Parenting operation & implement innovative - not band-aid - solutions (except for w/real booboos)! #edchat #parody

Develop your CharterFam manifesto, hire your team, assert your dominance thru fear,& be on your way to Excellence & Success! #edchat #parody

CharterFamily CEO starting salary: $200k+ | Act NOW to get in on the latest wave of the "charter" mvmnt - Charter Parenting! #edchat #parody

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TwitterArchive: EdReform, Bill Gates, & NBC's School Pride

TwitterArchive: EdReform, Bill Gates, & NBC's School Pride (from 16-October-2010):

I'm a little disturbed by the premise of this @NBCSchoolPride TV show -- "Extreme Makeover" meets "Waiting for Superman"? #edchat #education

In re @NBCSchoolPride: School "makeovers" lead to "a renewed sense of school pride & an increase in student achievement scores"? #edchat

Am I missing something, or is this @NBCSchoolPride show trying to make some TV ad revenue off of the #EdReform circus? #edchat #education

Let's follow the money trail 2the sponsors of the @NBCSchoolPride show: Walmart & - wait for it - Microsoft! #edchat #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm

Let's be real: I don't know anything abt @BillGates' bio,but was he bullied in school? Would that explain his meddling in #EdReform? #edchat

Seriously, if @BillGates was bullied in school, that could provide motivation for him 2want to "fix" things now that he has $/power. #edchat

I'm not trying to be mean to @BillGates; trying to understand his motivation & why he can't just donate $$ w/o strings attached. #edchat

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TwitterArchive: The Sources of EdReform

TwitterArchive: The Sources of EdReform (from 15 October 2010):

Are #EdReform -ers (adults) trying to make their name in #education & forgetting that it is about the young people, not the adults? #edchat

Are so-called #EdReform -ers (Gates,Oprah...) remaking #education to serve adult needs,instead of its real purpose of serving kids? #edchat

In regards to all of the #EdReform initiatives: Did it ever occur to anyone to *ask kids* what they think would improve their educ.? #edchat

In re #EdReform: If non-educator business ppl can be #education experts, then why not also the *kids* who are being educated?! #edchat

#EdReform: If business ppl can B #education experts by nature of their bank accounts,why not students by nature of their experience? #edchat

#EdReform: Are the rich & powerful COLONIZING authentic #education & learning for their own benefit (profit?)? #edchat /cc @DianeRavitch

We need post-"colonization" approaches to #EdReform to take back the issue frm the rich&famous(Gates et al.). Step 1: Student input. #edchat

TwitterArchive: Olaudah Equiano & Slavery

TwitterArchive: Olaudah Equiano & Slavery (from 15 October 2010):

#Reading autobiography of 18th C. African slave Olaudah Equiano ( http://goo.gl/xlgu ), & his vivid descriptions of the horrors of slavery.

Olaudah Equiano on slavery: Slaves "toil for [the] luxury and lust of gain" of their masters. (Full text: http://goo.gl/pp5F ) #p2 #NoAgenda

Olaudah Equiano on slavery: Slaves' "every tender feeling" are "sacrificed to [their masters'] avarice".( http://goo.gl/pp5F ) #p2 #NoAgenda

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

School Teachers, Morality, and Social Networking: A Reflection on “Moral Spaces in MySpace”

School Teachers, Morality, and Social Networking: A Reflection on “Moral Spaces in MySpace”

In response to:
Foulger et al. (2009). Moral spaces in MySpace: Preservice teaches’ perspectives about ethical issues in social networking. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(1), 1-28.

The topic discussed in this journal article is particularly relevant in terms of the confluence of ethical issues, new social media, and professional expectations. This is an issue that I have a strong opinion about, and my opinion is rooted in the perspective that a teacher (especially a public school teacher) is a professional and therefore subject to a somewhat higher set of expectations than might be in place for the general public.

As an initial comment on the research design of this article, I am a little bit concerned about the sample ratio of female:male – 44:6 – (p. 7). While indeed it is a general trend in higher education in the US to have a majority female student population, the ratio of the sample in this study seems a little too one-sided. As such, it may be more realistic to confine the results of this discussion to the (primarily) 18-25 female undergraduate demographic.

In regards to the general issue of teacher-professional's (pre-service or otherwise) use of social media and the issue of privacy, it needs to be noted that traditional understandings of privacy do not apply in a digital world designed around an architecture that by its very nature is intended to support the wide distribution of information (text, images, video, etc.). Also, as we are all aware of from stories of media piracy over the Internet, within the digital realm, nothing “stays put”. The basic ability to make perfect 1-for-1 copies of any digital information (text, images, video, etc.) means that once someone places something “out there” in the digital realm, it is practically impossible to know who will create their own copy of it, where they will place that copy, and what other things they might do with it. [If you're not convinced, log into your Facebook account and find the most embarrassing photo of a friend that you can locate. Then Right-click and “Save-As” that image. It is now yours and you can do with it as you wish.]

The notion of teacher-as-professional is a broader issue than cannot be fully discussed here, but if one accepts that a teacher is a professional and therefore subject to a different, stricter set of standards (including moral standards), then the preceding paragraph should offer a substantial body of reasoning for why teacher-professionals should be especially careful in the digital realm (including, but not limited to, social networking services).

As for myself, I recently abandoned and deactivated my personal Facebook account. Although – given what has been said above – I was always very careful as to what I posted, it eventually became more trouble than it was worth, and I decided to walk away from it. I do, however, use Twitter as a primarily professional (and partially personal) tool to communicate and interact with others. The difference with Twitter, from my perspective, is that whereas with Facebook and MySpace there is a sense of privacy (false, in my opinion), with Twitter, everything is available publicly to anyone, even those who do not have a Twitter account.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fixing Audio Issues with Skype 2.1 for Linux

* Massive audio delay (several seconds) / lag with Skype 2.1 (beta) for Linux
* Echo problem / echo cancellation not working
* Recording/microphone not working

My Setup:
* Ubuntu 9.04 (Netbook Remix)
* Acer Aspire One Netbook
* Static version of Skype 2.1 (beta) for Linux from Skype.com []

My simple fix / work-around - Initial steps:
- Install package: 'padevchooser'
- Run [from Sound & Video]: 'PulseAudio Device Chooser'
- Run [from Sound & Video]: 'PulseAudio Volume Control'
- Verify settings: 'PulseAudio Volume Control' > 'Input Devices' tab > 'HDA Intel - ALC268 Analog'
* Channels unlocked/unlinked; Front Left @ 0%; Front Right @ ~99%
* Volume Meter should move to register sound levels being picked up live by microphone
- Run: 'Skype 2.1 (beta)'
- Verify settings: 'Skype 2.1 (beta)' > 'Options' > 'Sound Devices'
* 'Microphone' & 'Speakers' & 'Ringing' = 'PulseAudio server (local)'
* 'Allow Skype to automatically adjust my mixer levels' = Deselected/Off
- Skype should now work as expected:
* Recording/microphone working
* No echo problem / echo cancellation working
* No noticeable audio delays/lag (not including delays due to poor network conditions)

Normal sequence for using Skype after following the above "Initial steps":
- Run [from Sound & Video]: 'PulseAudio Device Chooser'
- Run [from Sound & Video]: 'PulseAudio Volume Control'
- Run: 'Skype 2.1 (beta)'

* Verifying the above settings under 'PulseAudio Volume Control' seems to make recording/microphone work as expected
* Preventing Skype from mucking with mixer settings should leave the desired 'PulseAudio Volume Control' settings unaltered
* When 'PulseAudio Device Chooser' & 'PulseAudio Volume Control' are running, one / both (neither / background process related to installing 'padevchooser' package?) solve the audio delays/lag
* While not fully understood, and potential for redundancy does exist, the relatively simple-to-implement solution of running the two PulseAudio utilities along with Skype offers an easy way to solve the maddening issues that made Skype practically unusable

To Do:
* Work out a solution to allow audio recording of live Skype conversations with Audacity

[Last modified: 9 June 2010]