Instagram photos by location

If you share photos using Instagram, you may be unaware of this feature. I found it by accident.

If you tag your posts by location, the location appears when the post is displayed. Clicking on the location will bring up other photos from that location and selecting one of these photos provides the full post generated by the author. I think this is great, but it may disturb some.

Photos at the top are those most “hearted” – typically spectacular photos. I don’t think I have enough followers to make this collection.

instaphotos

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A case for coding?

If you are interested in the promotion of computer science courses and experiences in K12, you will likely find this lengthy pdf from the “Information technology and innovation foundation of value (The case for improving U.S. Computer Science Education). The paper even attempts to explain the origins of K12’s focus on other content areas. For example, why was biology considered the ideal science for the k12 setting.

I do find the historical perspective on teaching computer science in schools to be an interesting topic. Someone of my age has pretty much lived through the entire history of this topic and has had the opportunity to view related events – e.g., the emergence and decline and re-emergence of coding for kids.

In thinking about coding in schools, I believe I can identify multiple challenges. There is the question of what role CS should play. It is called a science, but this position questions the definition of a science as I understand the discipline. Certainly, this is the case at the level CS is taught in K12. There is the question of how learning the skills of coding are beneficial. Can it be pushed as a vocational skill or does it have more general relevance as a way to develop a wide range of skills – e.g., computational thinking. If the broader benefits are the basis for promotion, is this content area really the best way to develop such skills and is there evidence that CS instruction actually accomplishes these goals. Finally, the time available within the school day, year, etc. is pretty much fixed. Hence, new commitments must replace existing commitments. Existing commitments are already under siege (e.g., physical education, arts). Which trade-offs make sense? It seems inappropriate to let others work out the details. Every discipline has supporters.

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Value in different perspectives

The financial struggles of North Dakota and the University of North Dakota have provided me an opportunity. The financial struggles have limited hiring at the university and open positions have allowed me the opportunity to continue to teach a course or two after retirement. Moving from professor to adjunct status comes with significant financial limitations, but you shouldn’t retire if money is a significant issue.

I work with graduate students interested in educational uses of technology. The students are fairly sophisticated and so I am always pleasantly surprised when applications I show them are regarded as useful. I do not anticipate they will have my theory and research perspectives, but it is nice when related applications are novel.

I have students blog during the course and use an RSS reader to peruse the posts of their colleagues. A positive reaction to RSS should not surprise me. I have previously written about RSS as a lost opportunity. One thing that happens when individuals who share an interest get together is that certain unique perspectives are shared. This uniqueness is probably the source for the “wisdom of crowds”. I think that making the effort to try out RSS has been lost as active users have begun to rely on Twitter. There are likely unique advantages to the discovery opportunities provided by Twitter and the predictable opportunities provided by a collection of writers you appreciate.

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Sqworl

There are many tools for organizing and sharing bookmarks. Which social bookmarking tool you choose will likely depend on the quantity of links you want to organize, what information you want to store associated with each link, cost, and the ways in which you foresee using your link collection.

Sqworl is a simple social bookmarking service developed for educators. I suppose the name has something to do with putting away resources for future use (winter is coming). The service seems suited to organizing small collections for student or colleague use (e.g., three sources for information about why leaves change colors, math activities for 4th-grade teachers).

Sqworl uses a visual method for representing sites that seems similar to Pinterest. You add a title and description to the visual thumbnail of the site.

sqworla

Sqworl is easy to use. Once you have created a group, you simply enter the link for a site you want to add and then add descriptive information when the service generates a thumbnail for that site.

sqworl1

 

Sqworl collections are organized into groups (this seems to imply a social purpose, but you could use groups to organize private collections). Each group is associated with a unique URL that you share with intended users.

 

Sqworl2

There is a free and pro version of this service. Educators can pay $4 a month for $40 for the year to use the service. The Pro version removes the ads (an issue for many when using a service with students) and adds private groups for improved security.

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Hillbilly elegy

I just finished reading Hillbilly Elegy. The content of the book is not necessarily a focus on my recreational reading. I read the book after listening to an interview with the author and the suggestion that it provided a possible insight into the peculiar political divide that differentiates white males with and without a college education. Why do less well-educated white males lean toward a republican perspective. I am not certain I understand what this connection is. However, I did find this to be a very interesting read and would recommend it for anyone attempting to understand income-related differences in background and the commitment to education.

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Science is hard enough

Science is hard enough without the reality of human weakness. Some may not find the findings of scientists as suited to their personal beliefs and scientists can have weaknesses for fame and fortune that encourages misrepresentation of scientific findings. The first situation has been well documented by way of the current issues of climate change and the benefits of child vaccinations. The second topic is less frequently examined.

This post from FiveThirtyEight Science does a nice job of explaining how human frailty can influence scientists. Discussing this reality and what can be done should be important experiences for any future scientist. Issues such as replication, the bias toward promoting only significant findings, and simplistic reward systems based on publication counts need to be examined.

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Clipix

I test drive many personal content archiving tools because I spend a lot of time collecting things I might write about. I mostly use Evernote for this purpose, but the price hike for the paid version and downsizing of the free option has me looking around. My issue with Evernote is not that I object to paying for content I use a lot, but because I cannot understand why companies seem to lack a reasonable price point between the free and lowest paid version. The lowest price paid point usually offers far more than most casual users need so the actual benefit seems expensive.

Anyway, I came across a Google+ post pointing to an earlier recommendation for Clipix. I don’t think Clipix will meet my needs (I will explain), but it may be useful for others. Clipix is cross-platform and cross-device. It is relatively easy to use and works fast. It allows the isolation of content into multiple clipboards and it allows sharing.

The content that Clipix captures consists of images (it does associate the URL with the image). Your options are to store what you can view within the visible window of your browser or a smaller portion you select. I had difficulty with the selection tool and it appears to have limits on the size of what you select even though the selection tool allows you identify more. The limitation I have with image-based capture is the inability to actually isolate text and to apply search to text. I suppose you can add text via annotation, but

The limitation I have with image-based capture is the inability to actually isolate text and to apply search to text. I suppose you can add text via annotation, but search of the archived text is also helpful.

My personal strategies may not be limitations for others and the price is certainly right.

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Grad education for educators

Last night I met with the students in the grad course I teach. While I am retired, I still have the opportunity to teach some graduate courses and I look forward to this opportunity. In this context (preparing for this class and having the initial meeting in which the approach and the goals of the class were presented), this morning I happened to come across this post on graduate education for educators. If you have an interest in graduate level professional development, the post is well thought out and worth your examination.

I am not certain how the approach I take would be evaluated by the writer of the post I encourage you to examine. I am certainly willing to offer my syllabus for examination. I am very possibly an example of the “old guard” according to the expectations explained in this post. It is very possible that some of the vocabulary used by this writer limits my understanding. We academics all use terminology unique to our own perspectives and terms used as part of daily communication by others may be vague to others. The phrase “critical digital pedagogy” has no concrete meaning to me. I may actually take this perspective in the course I am teaching and I may not. I really don’t know.

Here is what I can say about my perspective. I understand that various perspectives can be brought to bear in examining instructional practices. My approach is based in the cognitive understanding of human learning and the research available on the effectiveness of different learning experiences. I am aware that many other factors are influential. There are political influences. There are historical influences. There are sociological influences. There are philosophical influences. There is also the reality that graduate education offers opportunities to examine the experiences of learners from all of these perspectives. I am certain that all perspectives have something to offer. I am also certain that my attempt to address the potential interplay of all of these perspectives would limit student focus on any given perspective.

I used to think that technology was neutral and that it was important for educators to understand that how students applied the tool should be the focus. I think my perspective has changed a bit. I understand that tools have affordances (things that the tool allows to be accomplished with great ease) and existing predominant applications. It is the combination of affordance, predispositions and an understand of how learning happens that I try to emphasize.

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Searching for insight

I read lots of criticism of textbooks, but I find little I think imagines the future of the textbook aside from replacing it with some as yet to be determined alternative. I want a clearer vision.

I have turned to those who offer perspectives on the future of other media. One of the best books on this topic I have read recently is Geeks Bearing Gifts by Jeff Jarvis. Jarvis is a CUNY journalism prof who writes about new media and changes to journalism.

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Maybe you should be a plumber

What vocations should students be strongly encouraged to consider? Computer science seems to be the newest thing. We may be thinking too narrowly. Perhaps the potential income of the next Zuckerberg is encouraging parents and educators to focus students toward coding related careers.

I wonder. Being a builder or home remodeler has great career opportunities. You cannot be outsourced and you might land your own show on the “home beautiful” channel. I am just guessing here. What I know about these vocations I have learned by watching television and hiring to work in my home. From my observations, construction seems to be quite lucrative and creative work. Coding jobs are easily sent to other countries and who would be interested in the “coding channel”?

I am trying to be humorous, but I think we must be careful when expecting young people to explore based on our values or what seems to be careers that may or may not be important in a decade.

How we learn to code is also an issue. Many of the success stories result from personal passion and informal learning rather than formal training. Programming is a great skill to teach yourself and to learn by doing. Check this TechCrunch post by a young coder.

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