I’ve always loved Rube Goldberg’s drawings. They lent a certain sense of the absurd to everyday tasks, creating a ridiculously complicated machine to handle something most of us could do without even thinking about it. Like many young people, I also delighted in building machines similar to Goldberg’s, using every toy at my disposal to produce something that, let’s be honest, may have been more satisfying to design and build than to actually deploy most of the time. A few hours’ work for ten seconds of payoff? Not a big deal, when you’re a kid.
In 2017, consumers were frequently on the receiving end of bad news: Wells Fargo continued to grapple with the fallout from fake accounts. Equifax compromised data. Apple slowed down phones.
And to kick off 2018, there are vulnerabilities in computer chips that will affect “almost all computers, servers, cloud operating systems, and cellphones made in the past two decades.” Disheartening, no?
I’ve been thinking about the nomenclature employed in this case. Calling the two vulnerabilities “Spectre” and “Meltdown” accomplishes a couple things. Taken together, the names seem appropriately technology-adjacent, but I was most interested in Spectre, which evokes something elusive, ghostlike, and therefore understandably difficult to detect—which explains how the vulnerability went undiscovered for more than 20 years.
Since it’s the holiday season, and I’m fresh out of deep, pedagogically significant ideas to post, I’m offering this letter-to-Santa missive as my final contribution of the year.
I know it’s a busy time of year for you, what with bringing toys and goodies to all the faculty and instructional designers that beavered all year to make online and hybrid learning effective, efficient, and enjoyable, but I have a few things to ask of you.
Lately I have been doing a lot of walking and have used that time to catch up on a number of podcasts, including a recent episode of the TED Radio Hour titled Rethinking School. A couple of things in this episode really caught my attention and made me think about what we are doing here at DePaul—and how perhaps we can rethink our own practices.
“What if they find out who I really am?”
Every quarter, I meet a new group of (mostly) freshmen students in my First Year Writing courses, and every quarter, there’s one conversation I can’t wait to have. I always make sure that we have a discussion of “Discourse Communities” and what it means to become a “professional” within any of the fields the students might be studying.
As educators, we should always be looking to meet the needs of accommodating various learning styles. Often times, as instructors we tend to be creatures of habit, using the same content over and over again. Instructors should be open to using and selecting the appropriate tool that will help students achieve the learning objective. I recently had an instructor that wanted more information or training about how to select the best tool for a particular learning style. I imagine other instructors would have this same question. So here goes. Continue reading
Three months ago, I published a blog entry called “Summer Math Class with Khan Academy: A Case of ‘Manipulated’ Learning”. Ever since then, I have tried a few more rounds of manipulation on my IRB-free research objects—my two kids. As a proud mother of manipulation, I’d like to report on a couple of cases of manipulating learning—and behavior—with tools and rules.
A few weeks back I attended the Fall Forum on Teaching and Learning. This year the theme was Race & Social Identity. This is obviously a very important topic—especially given the polarizing climate that we currently find ourselves in. The Keynote speaker, Terrell Strayhorn, spent a fair amount of time talking about how to create environments in our classrooms that are safe and welcoming for students who come from diverse backgrounds of experiences.
The first episode of Wisdom of the Crowd premiered on October 1st and I had to check it out. Being a lover of crime procedurals and someone who works to bring content to the masses through the use of online platforms, I thought this show would be right up my alley.
The main concept of the show is that a Steve Jobs-like character (Jeffrey Tanner played by Jeremy Piven) has decided to take crowdsourcing to the next level by creating an app, called SOPHIE, where people around the world can share and evaluate evidence to help solve crimes—more specifically to help solve his own daughter Mia’s murder. Everyone has a phone these days, and everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves, so why not create a platform where people can connect with each other and help solve murders without leaving the comfort of their homes?
I recently stumbled across a blog post about the 7 habits of highly ineffective developers and couldn’t help but see direct connections to the challenges people encounter when thinking about using educational technology. Like developers, instructors (and instructional designers) face all types of challenges. Understating yourself and being aware of these challenges can help make the most of your time, energy, and resources—as well as lead to better results.