ISTE Standards for Code Instructors

Since is the week many educators on teaching students some coding skills, I thought I would provide this link. Here are the ISTE standards for those intending to teach K-12 programming courses.

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YouTube and Copyrighted Music

The issue of copyright comes up so often with ed tech folks. Music is likely one of the greatest challenges because students understand the power of music in expanding the power of their message. This can lead to problems. Here is a useful position statement explaining the copyrighted music issue as it applies to YouTube.

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Coding and cognition

Tech folks are presently promoting “coding for all”. This Ars Technica article summaries the decline in student interest in coding. For many this decline in an age of the role of technology makes little sense. I recommend the article for a quick overview.

I do disagree with one position taken;

there are few, if any, studies that have looked at how studying computer science or learning to code affects one’s ability to think

I have written about coding in the classroom since the mid 1990s. Early on, our textbook had a chapter on coding and then we dropped the chapter when “focus groups” conducted by the publisher indicated this was a chapter few classes for preservice teachers covered. We now include relevant content in our Kindle book (a few resources online).

Returning to the claim made about a lack of research – there was research on the topic of whether LOGO developed higher level thinking skills. Several integrative reviews exit. As I remember the conclusions, transfer depends on considerable experience applied to a variety of tasks and few K-12 students have had such experiences. Issues of coding as a type of computer literacy may be different.

One additional fact I remember from reviewing the literature is that few states a HS comp sci course as a way to meet math or science graduation requirements. This may result in a chicken and egg problem for many schools. Not enough students are interested in taking courses and hence fewer schools make the commitment to offer.

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Goggle to cope with COPPA

USATODAY reports that Google will create a version of services to COPPA requirements allowing legal access for young users. COPPA prevents the collection of data on online activity. 

I am guessing many would prefer that Google not follow their online activity, but collecting such data is important in the Google business model. This move will allow young users not associated with a Google in Education program to have similar opportunities. 

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Twitter and your apps

Twitter may not have informed you of their new strategy (I wish I could remember if I was contacted – not that I remember), but they intend to collect a list of apps you use. Their rationale and what you can do if you object is provided by Twitter.

I do not like the “opt out” strategy as a reasonable way to disapprove of the business strategy of an online company. I understand that these companies must generate revenue, but I wonder about the awareness of the general public and whether most understand just how they are providing compensation.

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Options for Learning

circusclassI watched my own kids perform in a wide variety of activities. My two daughters took dance and the recitals went on for many hours (not a fan of the prancing pixie performance). My kids were all involved in musical theater. I enjoyed the performances but began to question the values of the organizers who seemed to expect a total time commitment from kids with multiple talents or other commitments. One of our kids (no disrespect to the rest) was a gifted athlete and we spent immense amounts of time travelling throughout the region to watch her play. You have not lived until you drive 180 miles after a night game during a North Dakota winter storm. Looking back she really does not have much to say about these experiences. Even watching the development of people you know well, it is difficult to connect early experiences with what follows.

I now observe my kids’ kids. Soccer was not part of my personal experience, but the activity seems to be everywhere. Even with the viewing time I devoted to the World Cup, I must say that I do not understand the game. The only relevant background seems to be my experiences watching theater. When do the youngsters learn to flop around on the ground to request a penalty call? I do get the concept of a GOALLL… and after waiting for an hour or so why the announcer emphasizes the accomplishment.

I just had the opportunity to watch the performance of a granddaughter taking a circus class. I would be willing to bet you cannot find a circus class in the entire state of North Dakota. I came away far more impressed than I had expected – an interesting combination of athleticism and performance. The “fans” were also an unusual group for me. My impression was that they were more multi-ethnic, but not more multiracial than you might experience at the other events I have experienced. There were languages I could not identify. Spending time in the “big city” does result in new experiences.

I wonder about the expectations of schools vs. parents in providing experiences that feed the individual interests of young people. What any of us find motivating varies so greatly. Given the fixed time schools are given, I wonder about the best allocation of this limited amount of time. We have so many skill and content expectations and now some propose we add more individual choices. There seems this constant pressure to add without deleting. Even the notion of individual interests and perspectives makes agreement on what is core difficult. It is fun to make arguments against popular trends. Do most students really need four HS math courses? I have an undergraduate degree in a science and a PhD., I still do not see the reason for the Calculus requirement I had to satisfy. I think a course in research methods and statistics has greater general value as a HS or college requirement.

It is interesting to consider how hidden values exist when any of us promote individualized learning. One advocate’s individualization could be experienced as a requirement by others with a different perspective. For example, I was thinking about whether it makes the most sense to allow time within multiple required courses for individual investigations or to reduce the number of required courses freeing up time for other experiences. I think this is an issue for which we have different perspectives. As a learner, I was never that much bothered by methods of instruction, but there were clearly topics I found boring. I took some large lecture, biology courses I found intriguing and a couple of small, discussion-oriented, humanities courses I thought were pointless. Given the choice, I prefer topic over method. The external method does not control my cognition which is the type of freedom it seems I prioritize. My only freedom given a topic that is of no interest is to daydream. I am assuming others have just the opposite reactions. This is my point. Even what we consider addressing individual needs is an individualized perspective.

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No money?

I would offer this as evidence that Internet providers do make sufficient funds from their past investments.

Companies have bid more than $30 billion to get a slice of the mid-range frequency spectrum auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission last week.

Part of the concern highlighted by the net neutrality debate is that providers have or nearly have a monopoly on access opportunities. My concern is that the Internet is moving toward the old system in which only those with great assets control the information we can access or can offer.

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Net Neutrality – Both Side

Folks probably tire of my comments on net neutrality. Obviously, I am a fan of maintaining what I would describe as an open Internet. As a provider of free content, I want to keep my server costs as low as possible and I do not want large companies to be able to reduce the efficiency of access to my content because they can purchase fast track access. From the beginning, I saw the value of the Internet as what used to be called a Read/Write web. The implication is all whether wealthy or not would have a chance to write.

This would not be much of a controversy if there was not another side. Rather than try to explain the complexity of the controversy, I refer you to a recent edition of This Week in Tech mostly featuring a give and take on this issue.

The way I think about the competing positions might be explain as who do you trust. Do you trust the government or do you trust the access providers (e.g., AT&T, Comcast)? Some folks just assume the government should stay out of as many functions of things as possible. The success of the US according to some is based on business competition leading to innovation and efficiency. While true in many sectors, this does not happen to be true for online access. Most folks have the option of two providers and some of us have a single provider. Hence, the pro-business argument makes some sense BUT not in a situation when there is very little actual competition. The business argument is that this sector must operate differently (phone, cable) because of the cost of infrastructure. True, BUT the companies in this sector have already paid for their investments and are now making huge profits. Anyone dealing with a cell phone company probably has an opinion of the responsibility these companies feel toward their customers.

Anyway, watch the video. It does a good job of offering the competing positions and explaining some of the complexities.

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Who knows what about tech

The “digital native” thing has always annoyed me. I guess I should be less critical – growing up with a technology in place does not necessarily mean you understand the technology or can use it in creative ways.

I always wondered why there was so little data available on who knows what. It would seem the kind of thing researchers could easily investigate. An article in THE Journal referenced a recent study that I found interesting. The study concluded that middle school science teachers know more about tech than their students. What I found useful about the paper was the literature review (the full paper is available online). Ed tech grad students might want to take a look at this paper as a good source for other studies.

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Election 2014

If you read my blogs on a regular basis, you likely understand my interest in politics. For me, this interest is a requirement of anyone interested in public education. For a couple of decades, Cindy and I have hosted a gathering at our place to watch the returns. This year because we have moved we are no longer in the company of our friends.

Just for kicks, I searched my blogs for past comments on this day. Interesting to review the highs and the lows.

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