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Interesting Links 20 July 2015

If this is Monday it must be Charleston. Seriously though I am in Charleston SC for a two day mini conference with a small group of great educators. More on that when I get home in a few days. Last week was the CSTA Conference followed by the CSTA Board meeting. Lots of good stuff. With a lot of in person conversations I wasn’t online as much as usual but I still have a few good links to share.

No Room For Lone Wolves: via Doug Peterson  @dougpete Lessons for teachers of CS from pro developers as shared at the closing keynote from the CSTA Conference. The video of that keynote and many other sessions will be available soon.

CSTA's New Assessment Landscape Study was released during the conference. Take a look. 

Free PD for teachers who want to teach Computer Science Principles  from @Harvard and professor @davidjmalan A few more openings so if you are in the area around Boston look into it. I’m taking it.

Bob Irving blogged about attending CSTA and included links about his Minecraft presentation.

Top Ten Myths about Teaching Computer Science Int3resting post on the blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM by Mark Guzdial. What do you think? Myths or true?

Some great news to kickstart the week: ScratchJr is now officially available for Android 4.2+ in @GooglePlay!

Raspberry Pi? Why Yes, I’ll Have Pi Cluster - Reed's Ruminations: A Blog by Dan Reed – imagine a super computer made up of very small, very inexpensive computers.

BTW Start thinking now about next year’s CSTA Annual Conference.

Categories: Planet

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 July, 2015 - 01:47

Just something I am thinking about and trying to process through writing…

One of the hardest things I have embarked on in the last little while is trying to write a book.  I have been working on it (I know this is going to sound horrible) for the last couple of years, yet have not been able to just finish it.  The amount of content I have written on this blog in the past five years (nearly 1000 posts) has been huge, but writing a book is not only a different process, but also a  different product. If you disagree or want to challenge something in this blog post, your shared point of view might change mine, and the next blog post might be a reflection of that.  What I think now, might be different than what I think in five years.  A book though, has a certain amount of permanence to it.  I think it is totally understandable on challenging a book and having the author rethink their position, yet you might feel something totally different after publishing, but your old viewpoint is still seemingly engraved on those pages.  It is almost the modern day equivalent of being written in stone.  A blog seems like a formative assessment, and a book seems summative; there seems to be a certain finality to it.

That is one thing that I am struggling with.

The other is the effort and time you would need to put into it, and the mere moments it would take to criticize it online.  Going through the process has changed the way I read Amazon reviews.  I cringe at a bad review and think, if something I would publish would actually be on that site, would I even look?  It is something that would haunt your dreams, just like the one negative comment out of a 100 on a session will be the one you focus on?  I think of this not only in writing a book, but any type of music or art that one pours their soul into, and it can be ripped apart in moments.  It is daunting.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t challenge the thoughts in a book (I have done this myself), but just thinking about how we do it.

So here is what I like about the process….actually going through the struggle that I have described above.

I am really trying to focus and finish a first copy sooner than later, and hammer through it to have it ready to go by a certain timeline.  I need to have that timeline in my head, or I will continue to push it off.  But the above things that I struggle with, put me back into a place of discomfort, and lead me to become more empathetic to understanding that others struggle with the things that I now feel are second nature.

I remember working with a teacher who was so reluctant about using Twitter, and then they  finally had the courage to join and try, and it was daunting to them.  On their very first tweet, they asked for help, and other than my resharing of it, the first response was a sarcastic comment on the quality of the question.  I really believe the person had no intent of criticizing the person and it was just their humour, but I saw the worst case scenario in her mind come to life and that was the end of the process for her.  She had no idea who the person was so it was hard for her to understand the comment. I am not sure if they continued on with Twitter, but sometimes when that first “jump” becomes as scary in reality as it was in your head, it is tough to go again.

At the beginning of the year, I decided that my “word” to define my year was going to be empathetic, and it has stuck with me every single day.  I think about the person with their first tweet as well as the person with the thousandth.  On any day, a response without that approach could be the one that pushes a person to lose confidence in their voice.  The recent #semicolonEDU reminded me of not only how many people go through things that I never know, but how courageous so many people are to put themselves out there, whether it is online, or even showing up to work every day.

This is not only with social media, but even things like a staff meeting.  I have seen people finally get the courage to speak, but then watch a room that has no one listening.  It is sometimes not even in what we say, but in what we do or not do, that can make an impact.  Will they feel the confidence to share again, or will that be the last time for a long time?  I am guilty of this myself as I know that I can easily become distracted or lost in something, so I am trying to get better at being in the moment.  And don’t blame mobile devices…I was easily distracted LONG before they became the norm in our society.  I am trying to get better.

I think that putting yourself in spaces where you struggle not only helps you to grow your mind, but sometimes grow your heart.  Remembering what it is like to struggle, I mean really struggle, is something that will remind you how hard it is for you and others to put themselves in place of vulnerability.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t challenge, but thinking about when we challenge, and how we do it.  I have said it over and over again, that learning is relational.  An effective coach is not one that treats every player the same, but treats every player as an individual, and knows when to push and when to pull, and builds upon the unique strengths of each to bring a team together.  How one is treated when they struggle and lack confidence, is often remembered on the path to success.

If we followed the advice “do one thing everyday that scares you”, we would not only grow, but we would also remember how hard it is for others to do the exact same.


Categories: Planet

Lessons from a Hole in the Bucket

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 19 July, 2015 - 16:38


  • In the song 'There's a Hole in the Bucket' we are introduced to Liza and Henry as the overcome the difficulties caused by a bucket with a a hole in it. Liza sets Henry the task of collecting water but as we soon find out this is no simple task. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, learning, teaching

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News


Darcy Moore's Blog - 19 July, 2015 - 11:04

Why do people still pay to subscribe to magazines, journals, websites and newspapers?

For some time, to subscribe, one has entered an email address or added the website as an RSS feed for an endless stream of online articles and posts. I subscribe to about a thousand websites using FeedlyIn another sense, we subscribe by clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’ to get automatically updated information streams via Facebook and Twitter. In this context, many, quite understandably, are not prepared to pay for articles in newspapers and magazines when so much is available for free.

Why then do we pay for some subscriptions? I can only answer for myself and thought I’d take the time to post about my subscriptions and consumption of news, entertainment and other information.

News and Current Affairs

It is important to have a balanced flow of daily news and current affairs. My tax contribution is my subscription to our national broadcaster and it is a trusted source of news and current affairs. In my life, every federal government has grown annoyed with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation at some stage and this is very reassuring as having an effective fourth estate is fundamental for a democracy. Just In is excellent for keeping one up to date, minute by minute, and I always have this tab open on my browser (I never listen to the radio). I do watch the ABC TV News and The 7.30 Report will be kept on if the guest or story is interesting. The SBS TV News is always watched for an international perspective if I am home at 6.30pm.

Perhaps it is tenuous to suggest that I subscribe to the ABC and SBS via taxes but it is broadly an accurate description. Other news sources required the physical and financial effort to actually pay for a subscription. It is important to have a balance of perspectives so I have paid subscriptions across the political spectrum to mainstream sources like the Murdoch/NewsCorp owned newspaper, The Australian and from FairfaxThe Sydney Morning Herald plus a local newspaper, The Illawarra Mercury. I have not read a print copy of newspaper since last decade and read all these online. I also read The Guardian but do not have a paid subscription.

It is important to support independent media sources outside the mainstream to encourage diversity. I have subscribed to New Matilda and Crikey for over a decade. I rarely visit their websites but read the email version. The long form of journalism has made a comeback in recent years with quality journalism from The Atlantic, Huffington Post and The New Yorker. These ‘longreads‘ are an antidote to the hyperbole of news grabs, political spin and the low attention news cycle. The Saturday Paper is a relatively new Australian player on the scene from Morry Schwartz that has these longer articles about the news of the week and I have subscribed to the online version since inception. I particularly like the music and book reviews. This quote sums up their ambition and belief:

We believe newspapers are not dead, they just stopped doing their job well. 

On the political spectrum, The Australian is the most “right-wing” of the sources I read and New Matilda, the most “left-wing”. However, the political landscape, compared to the 1970s when I first started consuming news, has swung so far to the right that we do not rarely have what is truly left of centre journalism except from occasional pieces by John Pilger. Crikey, which itself is often very socially libertarian and anti-establishment, published a “bias-o-meter” back in 2007 that still seems about right except that Fairfax has headed back the other way (you’ll need to read the last link).

Why do I subscribe to all of the above? Encouraging a diverse fourth estate in Australia is one very important reason but also, frustration at not being able to access articles of interest is another. For example, The Weekend Australian has very good book reviews which are subscriber only. Australians need Australian sources of news and current affairs. We should pay to ensure the fourth estate is strong. At this point I could make some commentary about our system and how the media is a player who does not always serve the citizen or democratic state but will save that for another post.

Magazines and Journals

The only print copy subscription that arrives in my post (except for several family history society journals) is the absolutely excellent New PhilosopherIt is a beautiful magazine and the only philosophy magazine published in Australia. I subscribe to support this venture and feel happy when the magazine arrives in the mail. Professionally, I have used some of the wisdom with students and one small A4 poster resounds with many who are looking to find their way.

Schwartz Media has an impressive stable of publications. I have already mentioned their weekly newspaper and have subscribed to The Monthly since the beginning. First in hard copy and in recent years, on my iPad. Quarterly Essay is essential reading for Australians and I have written recently about the excellent pieces by Karen Hitchcock and David Kilcullen during the first half of this year.

For a long time I subscribed to Quadrant (from when Robert Manne was editor) but found it hard to stomach some of the essays about Aboriginal issues that were being published at the beginning of the century and it got to the stage I could no longer support such extremism from one author who went on to become the editor in 2007. These ‘History Wars’ continue and I am happy to read opposing views when they are written with integrity. I always enjoyed, albeit through gritted teeth, the provocative pieces by Padraic McGuinness because of his intellect and autodidacticism. It is important to read a variety of views but not possible to support, financially, such a concerted effort to undermine Aboriginal people and their supporters politically at a time where the Prime Minister refused to say ‘sorry’!

In recent years I have subscribed to Family Tree Magazine and Black+White Photography (Facebook page) on my iPad. There have been a number of other family history magazines that have fallen by the wayside but I like both of these. They both have a strong editorial direction and presence.

Music, TV and Film

The arrival of the internet and World Wide Web facilitated sharing of music, television and film in a way that challenged conventional notions of copyright and ownership. There have been countless articles and books written about piracy, copyright P2P networks and ethical or legal considerations since the 1990s but recently, much has changed. Low cost subscription services make it less profitable for individuals to bother with piracy. Tools like Sonos are fantastic innovations for listening to music easily at home when used in concert with Spotify and a range of other free and paid services. I am more than happy to subscribe for such a streaming service and am trialling Apple Music too, although it does not yet connect to my Sonos speakers, which is a deal-breaker.

1.5 million Australians have flocked to video-streaming service Netflix since it arrived here. Of course, many were already using it by bypassing geolocation locks. The service works well with Apple TV and my free subscription month will result in becoming a paying customer. Not once has here been buffering or connection issues. The only issue, the lack of Australian content but more often than not, that can be streamed legally from iView or SBS.

Social Media, Video Games and VPNs

One wonders what would happen if some of the popular social media tools, that basically make the user the product, started charging. I suspect that many would pay for Facebook and Twitter rather than lose the service and connections. I doubt this will ever happen though. I tried a paid subscription to APP.NET but let it lapse as I just seemed to rarely use it. The clients were not great and there was a general lack of engagement. I now have a free account. 

Diigo is an important tool for social bookmarking and I am happy pay subscription fees partly as I was so happy with the way the tool saved me when Delicious went pear-shaped. I pay for Yahoo (and still have my first email account ever from 1997) and Flickr happily.

I once played online video games but must admit, that in the last couple of years, have found them unsatisfying and pretty much stopped playing. The most recent subscription was The Elder Scrolls Online which the whole family was playing. We all loved Skyrim on PS3 but never really became enthusiastic about this next instalment and allowed our subscription to lapse.

Many people have subscribed to VPNs for security and privacy. I first used Witopia when travelling overseas to access Australian content and feel safer browsing via cafe and hotel wifi. It can be employed on smartphone, tablet and laptop. I tried some others but Witopia has always been reliable.

What was your first subscription?

As a kid I liked magazines and often had subscriptions and it was great when the mail arrived, often with a quite battered copy, each month of my favourites. In mid-primary school during the late 1970s I liked the interesting articles in a high quality magazine called, Look and LearnThere were many historical pieces which were particularly interesting for me, along with articles about nature and science. I did not really register how British this mag was as pretty much everything I was reading was British. Australian content was severely limited. At this time I read countless already old-fashioned books, especially series’ like Biggles, Famous Five, William and Jennings, as well as Dr Who novelisations, so nothing seemed out of place.


What subscriptions do you deem worth money nowadays?


Featured Image: flickr photo by MikeBlogs http://flickr.com/photos/mikeblogs/172940802 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

The post Subscribe? appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

CSTA Annual Conference 2015–Looking Back

The 2015 Annual CSTA Conference is in the books now. Over 350 people attended in Grapevine TX for 14 three-hour workshops and 24 concurrent sessions. There was also a tour and reception of the University of Texas Dallas, a code.org sponsored happy hour and other opportunities for informal networking.

I had the chance to sit in on two of the workshops. The first was by Mark Guzdial and Barbara Erikson from Georgia Tech on their Media Computation course. They do a lot of cool things with manipulation of images and sound. They use Python which looks pretty interesting. On the other hand the libraries they use for images look like they would be easily duplicated in C# or Visual Basic and so usable with either or both of those languages. I may give writing them a try. Not sure about the sound stuff yet.

I also sat in on Problem Based Learning in Computer Science: A Case Study in Robotics Camp presented by Joshua Block. My big takeaway there was an interesting exercise in problem solving and planning involving making a tower out of playing cards.

It may be a replacement for the marshmallow challenge which I have used in the past. I’ll have to see about a cheap source of playing cards first.

My favorite of the concurrent sessions is probably Out of Your Seat Comp Sci: Coding Using the Kinect presented by Doug Bergman. Doug has a project based course for his advanced students that has them all making projects that use a Kinect. Apparently used version 1 Kinects can be found on the Internet now that the version 2 is out. Doug showed us some of his student projects and some of the code behind them. They sure do have to do a lot of design work and thinking to create these projects. Most of them have to use – gasp – math.

I also attended sessions on Minecraft and Pencil Code. Minecraft looks interesting but I’ll see how interested students at my school are before trying to include it in the curriculum.

Pencil Code has some nice ideas and lets users switch back and forth between block and text based programming. But mostly it seems like another version of Scratch (like Blockly, App Inventor, and Snap!) and I’m just not feeling the excitement in these any more. I’m going to stick with TouchDevelopment for now.

There were also keynotes and an industry panel of course. The closing keynote was from a game company and I think it had a lot of value for people who haven’t talked to game developers before. Lots of talk about the need for soft skills (communication and teamwork), problem solving ability and a reminder that professionals are always learning new things. I’ll share the video when it is available with my students who need to hear this stuff.

As is so often the case conversations were key to my enjoyment and learning. I’ve already blogged some about my conversations around the BBC Micro:bit. I had some conversations about projects, pedagogy, other tools (the exhibit hall was well worth the time here) and just catching up with friends from around the country. And a few people from outside the country.

Overall a great conference. If you missed it you really did miss something good.

And now we look forward to 2016 in San Diego, California. There will be a request for proposals in the fall. Start thinking about what you would like to present next year.

Categories: Planet

School’s out Friday

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 18 July, 2015 - 00:33

Stepping out of his comfort zone has worked pretty well for Richard Branson. Here’s hoping the same applies to me!

I’ve stepped way out of my comfort zone and just experienced the first week of work at a new school. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried (not while at work!) and I’ve made some nice connections with the people I’m working with. That is what has kept me sane – my thanks go to everyone there who have made me feel so welcome.

To be totally honest with you, I’d underestimated just how hard it is to start a new job. You go from someone who was competent in pretty much everything you were doing in your previous job, to someone who is struggling to remember the footprint of the building you are in, the names of people you’ve just been introduced to less than two minutes ago, and how you go about navigating a Windows environment on a PC when you’ve used a Mac for the last 6 years!

Give me another 8 or so weeks and I’m sure I’ll be handling things like a pro. Well, hopefully anyway – maybe semi-professional is a more apt forecast!

A weekend of contemplative rest is in order. Taking stock, collecting my thoughts, getting ready to do it all again next week. Keeping in mind that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. :)

Have a great weekend. Enjoy, may the sun shine.

Categories: Planet

Assessing intelligence(s)

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 16 July, 2015 - 13:02

Sir Ken Robinson in his book Creative Schools states that our understanding of intelligence over the past hundred years (measured largely by IQ) presents “a narrow and misleading conception of how rich and diverse human intelligence really is.”

As societies and cultures develop, new theories emerge and one of the most prominent theories of intelligence is Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. However in 1985, American psychologist Robert Sternberg proposed the theory of successful intelligence.  Sternberg says he became interested in human intelligence because his teachers and his parents thought he was ‘stupid’ (thanks to an IQ test) and so he ended up believing that he was.

According to Sternberg, the theory of successful intelligence is the ability to work out what you want to do with your life and to succeed given the constraints of your environment.  While IQ measures a single intelligence (analytical), successful intelligence is defined as creative, practical and analytical.

Sternberg has been particularly interested in how his theory applies to teaching by questioning whether you could improve student outcomes if teachers recognise students learn in different ways.  Sternberg suggests teaching in different ways at different times so that every student’s creative, practical or analytical strengths are being developed.

For schools, we need to look to assessments that measure a broad range of skills including, as Dr Yong Zhao says, ‘non-cognitive such as motivation, persistence, confidence and personality traits’.  It re-affirms Sternberg’s message that we must teach and assess in ways that reflect how students learn best and not the other way around.

Interestingly, the OECD is recognising the importance of social and emotional skills in addition to analytic skills by beginning to develop international measures. Earlier this year, OECD’s Director for Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher commented that cognitive abilities still remained critical but ‘people with strong social and emotional foundation skills thrive better in a highly dynamic labour market and rapidly changing world’.




Categories: Planet

Office Sway – Erstellen Sie begeisternde Geschichten, Präsentationen...

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 13 July, 2015 - 22:16


  • Microsoft App (Web und mobile Apps), um kinderleicht mit wenigen Klicks/Touchs Ideen, Themen, Content aller Art in ansprechendem Design zu erstellen und plattformübergreifend zur Verfügung zu stellen. Funktioniert auf Web, Tablets und Smartphones. Gut für: Lehrkräfte, SchülerInnen und Studierende, die optisch ansprechende Präsentationen von Projekten, Ideen, Themen mit ein paar Mausklicks und Texten veröffentlichen möchten, die auf allen Endgeräten gut aussehen. - Gaby K. Slezák

Tags: presentations, share, tools, tool

by: Gaby K. Slezák

Categories: International News
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