Sunday, August 14, 2011

Deviations and Controls and Effects Oh My!


Waxman, H.C., Lin, M., & Michko, G. M. (2004) A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of teaching and learning, NCREL available online at

A study of studies based on research from 1997 to 2003. At best, the technology and studies themselves are already 10 years old. Research for researchers. Statistics for statisticians and citations from those who like to be cited. The conclusion? “Encouraging.”

I am happy that the textbook for this course is readable and has practical examples that can be used immediately with little thought even though it is already 5 years old (35 in dog years and who knows how many in tech years) and that there are even more and better Web 2.0 apps and tools to accomplish many of the goals. The problem with studying technology is it’s ever changing nature. How about a study that could give us results in say... realtime?

Another problem of studying the effectiveness of technology on learning is the control group of the “have-not’s” or “didn’t use technology”. Can we morally use them as a control? Let’s just equip the have-not’s and train the teachers instead of spending and giving money to people who like to research for their PHD’s or maintain their tenure and plot standard deviations. Sometimes enough is enough. After all, we now already know that the results are encouraging.

(I understand that the research company, NCREL/Learning Point does lots of valuable research and provides useful information to the education industry. I just don’t want to read the methods and statistics. I want practical, useful information which they do in fact provide as well.)

Principles of Learning:

Principles of Teaching and Learning available online at

Ahhh... Here we go. Somebody took all those effect percentiles and converted them into plain English. Thinking back, I was wondering where were all these practical snippets of information when I was doing my ed courses. reading all those books where you get interrupted 5 times a sentence by a citation. Maybe it took that long for someone to decipher the means and deviations.

Tools for our Textbook:

Creately is an on-line diagramming tool that has a slew of templates including an K-12 Education category that includes many of the document styles mentioned in our textbook; KWHL, Compare - Contrast and more. With the free version you can save a few things or use to print templates. Paid version with collaboration may get a bit pricey. Alternatively for collaboration you could download an image of a template you made and then use that as a background in a Goggle doc or presentation where students then add text and other stuff as needed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cyber-Bullying, Sexual Predators and Internet Anonymity

While doing research for Internet safety I came across an interesting current topic regarding internet anonymity. Anonymous society such as living in a large city has created conditions for many social ills that most of us would rather not have. Few would argue against that living in Mayberry with Andy Griffith has its perks with regard to setting and enforcing social and moral norms. You can't afford to be an outcast in a place where everybody knows your name, while having the whole community watch your back can be an advantage.

Though much cyber-bullying is done on social networks between parties that know each other and know each others pseudonyms there is a lot that goes on between strangers as well. Sexual predators need to be anonymous. Recently both Google+ and Facebook have been discussing having users use "real" names:

One point of all of this is that some people think that people would be more responsible with what they say, post and publish if they had to use their real names. Here are some issues as I see it.
  • The "real" looking names still don't have to be your real name. You can use something that appears to be a real name but there is no check for validity.
  • Having minors use real names goes against all Internet safety conventions.

In reading some comments on the above articles I have the following propositions.
  • A "Certified Me" service and logo that guarantees that you are who you say you are. This of course would be a voluntary thing for people to do (and not government controlled). It would act much like "Certified Organic" or "100% Juice". (I am assuming the Certified Me servers will be ultra secure since they hold your real information.) (Perhaps an existing service like OpenID, Verisign or Paypal could start this.)
  • People who really want to know who you are could request information from you via an anonymous email address like Craigslist uses when you reply. You could choose to respond or not (and of course the person you are responding to has an anonymous address as well.)
  • Certified Me service would under court order, reveal the identity details to the court of those involved with documented criminal charges related to and under the name of a "Certified Me" user. In reality, this condition is what would keep Certified Me posts and publications reliable and law abiding.
  • Internet services and accounts would give you the option of using either your screen name or your "Certified Me". When posting on Twitter or Facebook you could choose which byline you want to use. You can choose to let people know that this is me and I stand by what I just said. 
Having a "Certified Me" service could accomplish a few things. It could increase the reliability of the information that is being published or at least help set your own criteria for what you accept as reliable. After being informed, minors would at once know if someone they are chatting or communicating with is real or is hiding in anonymity.

The anonymous Internet certainly has its advantages for many things and I plan to continue using it. Knowing for certain that there are real people behind some of what is out there could also have its advantages. What do you think? I know this opens a big can of worms and might be a lot more complex than what I described, but is it an idea worth considering?