Archive for October, 2009

Text books suited to your learning style

Our brains are not linear, so why should our textbooks be? Connexions allows users to break content down into smaller modules that can be linked and arranged in different ways better suited to an individual learning style.

Connexions Website: http://cnx.org/

A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:

Creative Commons article with Connexions creator Rich Baraniuk: http://creativecommons.org/education/connexions

Baraniuk’s main beef with traditional teaching and textbooks is that they’re too linear. Subjects are broken up into discrete units, and then never reconnected. Textbooks mirror this flaw in that they are completely linear, and depending on the particular focus of a course, tend to offer a great deal of irrelevant or redundant information, while failing to cast any illumination on vital subjects. Even worse, by the time they make it through writing, editing, school board reviews, publishing and finally into students hands, textbooks — especially in the fast moving sciences — are often obsolete.

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Changing values in Canadian Universities.

The 21st century has brought about a competitive market for higher education. As this occurred some noticed value shift in universities. Some of these value shifts can be connected to the web becoming a dominant medium and opening up knowledge and communication to a variety new learners, while others are a little harder to justify.  These are the four changes that the Christine Overall, a teacher in the department of philosophy at Queen’s University, finds the most significant.

1) understanding education as a good that’s both intrinsically and instrumentally valuable to justifying education mainly in terms of its purported utilitarian value;

2) being hierarchical and exclusive to becoming more egalitarian and inclusive;

3) being a place where scholars’ intellectual authority was accepted almost without question to a place where the very idea of intellectual authority is challenged;

4) being a place built on a notion of objective truth to a place where relativism in values and epistemic claims is common.

The rest of the article can be read by following the link below. The article further analyzes the significant changes in university values over the last half century and asks the question, are these changes good or bad?

http://www.universityaffairs.ca/values-for-the-times.aspx

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Is Technology Making Cursive Obsolete?

This post is in reference to an article that focuses on society’s use of technology for certain tasks and how some technology use may be negatively affecting other skills we have obtained, specifically penmanship. While the skill may not necessarily be lost,  it may have become a less important communication skill. Although many people still write for personal use such as journals, or note taking; more often than not communication between one another is via digital tools such as email, texting or even phone calls. Even school assignments are most often asked for in a digital format. Take a look at the article below and submit your thoughts via the comment section here on our blog.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2009/10/is_tech_making_cursive_obsolet.html

I have to say that while I agree that students should know how to write legibly without a keyboard, I wonder how important it really is for students to know cursive specifically. Perhaps it is my own bias, since I learned cursive in third grade and, beyond the instances I was required to use it, have rarely tapped into that knowledge. It seems that if a student needs to turn in a formal writing assignment, whether it be for school or a job application, it is expected that it will be typed, rather than hand-written. And I know cursive is supposed to be faster in timed writing assignments, but for those who never practice cursive (like myself), printing is much faster.

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The Information Revolution is Happening!

We’ve been having some great discussions lately regarding the relative effects of various major “revolutions” in human history:

  • the agrarian revolution
  • the print (Gutenberg) revolution
  • the industrial revolution
  • the electronic (information) revolution

“We need to be on the right side of history if we are to survive and thrive. If we harness them correctly, we can blend the best of out traditional intellectual linear culture with the current digital culture, creating a new learning and intellectual environment consistent with the cognitive and expressive demands of the 21st century.” (Peter Crookson)

How fundamentally will this latest revolution impact education and our traditional way of conducting the “business” of teaching, learning, researching, and communicating? Ray Kurzweil presents some compelling facts about the pace of the information revolution and the evolution of the “singular university.”

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