Google ads in WordPress

If you blog using WordPress (e.g., the software running this blog), you may be curious about the addition of Google ads to your site. This post from 3nions does a nice job of explaining what it takes to add ads. I am not a promoter of assuming ads will generate much revenue (the number of ad hits for the number of page displays has been very low for me), but I do enjoy exploring the data Google provides.

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Tea Infuser

This is a bit off-topic for me, but when I really like something I take the time to offer a recommendation.

This is a tea infuser from Global Market. I spend large blocks of time staring at a computer monitor and drinking coffee. Tea was typically some herbal drink for later in the evening when I had to cut off the caffeine. I just could not get into drinking tea on a regular basis. I have large quantities of tea some of which I purchased in China years ago and most of this stuff should probably be thrown out. Now, I can talk about drinking the tea I brought back from China. Since I don’t really know how tea is supposed to taste, this stuff is as good as Lipton.

The gadget is self-explanatory. Put loose tea in the compartment. Close the compartment. Stick in a cup of very hot water. Allow to steep. Push button when removing from cup. Open infuser and dump in garbage.

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OneNote and EverNote

I am an EverNote Pro user. This means I pay. I am seriously considering moving from EverNote to OneNote. I regard Evernote as a superior product, but the cost is gradually ramping up and OneNote would cost me nothing. I could easily be convinced to stay with EverNote if they offered a paired down version of their product at a paired down price. I just don’t need most of the features EverNote offers. Feature glut and price creep have long been a problem with software (e.g., Word), but it is especially serious with apps. I understand the position of the companies – it costs more t0 offer two products and many will stick with a product despite the increase in price and complexity. Both customers and developers make decisions as to where to draw that line.

I am still having some struggles with OneNote. My workflow involves reading on a tablet and writing on a computer. This is the way I prefer to do things. OneNote would work perfectly for my needs if I did everything on a computer. The phone and tablet apps just give me trouble when I collect information I will eventually use as a basis for what I write.

So, if I capture content using Safari on my tablet (other browsers do not seem to be supported), I get something like this. Contrast this view with the following captured from a computer.

I cannot read the content from the tablet, but the content from the computer is perfect for reading and annotation.

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First amendment and social media

I am easily energized by idealism. I do not in any way see this as a character flaw. The individualization that seemed possible because of personal computers and then the open Internet pretty much gave direction to the last 25 years of my professional career. I participate in the opportunities technology allows, use technology to teach and learn, and write about whatever I see as possible limitations on the potential of learning from interaction. My initial idealism has become more tempered of late. The potential for expression and interaction that seemed to offer such great opportunities have resulted in less engagement than I had hoped. I understand that not all forms of expression require writing (the approach I prefer), but I had hoped that individuals would create content rather than mostly forward the content created by others. I believe you learn in the process of expressing yourself and this process takes effort. I admit I also did not anticipate the issues of privacy, purposefully false content, and hate. I also lament what seems to be a transition between individual expression and big media. I guess we get what we deserve and if we are too passive others will take advantage.

My daughter alerted me to a new source that seems to fit very well with my personal hopes. The service is from NPR and includes a podcast and web site. The service is called 1a as a reference to the first amendment – free speech. The service promotes the value of free speech and intends to encourage public discussion on important topics of the day. Educators and all who value personal awareness – this looks like a great source.

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Many faces of personalization

Personalization is another of those education buzzwords that sounds positive, but can mean so many different things. There is nothing necessarily wrong with recognizing that adapting to individual students interests and needs, but the reality is that advocates who are proponents of some types of personalization object to others.

Audrey Watters does a great job of explaining the variety of ways in which learning can be personalized and the role technology can play in many of these opportunities. I encourage your attention to this extensive review.

My personal interest has long been in the individualization of the expected speed of learning. Simply put, traditional learning offers instruction at narrowly fixed rate. There are learners who could move faster to learn more and there are learners who cannot keep up and gradually find themselves lack the necessary existing knowledge for the new skills and knowledge they are expected to acquire. A tutor would probably be the best way to respond, but the cost is prohibitive. Technology offers an alternative (think Kahn Academy as an example) that offers promise.

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Your new DSLR

Maybe I should have used a different title to make the focus of this post clear. A DSLR is a camera and no you cannot message someone from your DSLR.

Just in case you get a DSLR for Christmas (lucky you) or have one you never figured out how to use except in automatic mode, this cool simulation is for you. Learn how the different settings on a DSLR interact and which settings to use for which conditions.

Or, if you interested in instructional design, you might find this a great example of what is possible in a simulation.

(Wired Magazine source)

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Attention Merchants – Tim Wu

Leo Laporte’s weekly Triangulation has some guests with messages that interest me. His last program featured Tim Wu. Wu is an academic from Columbia Univ. I liked his book “Switched” which describes (if I can remember correctly) the movement from the original open Internet to an Internet dominated by major players. The focus of the interview with Mr. Laporte concerns advertising and “free content”.

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Deep reading? Is this new?

Does describing the study of text content as “deep reading” add anything or does it encourage those new to the field to unnecessarily start from scratch? Before I focused mostly on technology integration, I would describe my research interests as content area reading and text-based study behavior. I am seriously just trying to figure out if the topics of interest from my background are different and if the large research base in topics such as summarizing, highlighting, annotating, and self-generated questions is being ignored. I see many of these same topics identified as a way to encourage deep reading.

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Change Flickr Password

You have probably heard that a billion Yahoo! user accounts have been stolen. I must say that it was news that Yahoo had that many customers. I suppose many have accounts that have been abandoned.

I have long recommended that educators use Flickr if they make educational use of images. Flickr is a Yahoo service and continues to be my recommendation when it comes to things like setting Creative Commons licenses on images. If you use Flickr, it is recommended that you change your password.

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Public schools own part of the blame

I have always been a public institutions advocate. I share the concern of so many with the nomination of billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I would prefer that this position be filled by someone with direct experiences in the processes of education and not an advocate for a narrow educational issue (private schools). Still, I believe the public institutions should accept some responsibility for questioning the productivity and vision of public sch0ols.

Public education and probably all main stream institutions tend to hang on to how things have always been done. Such institutions attract those comfortable with existing practices and find ways to justify existing ways of doing things. I believe that things do change and new ideas worthy of exploration come into prominence. I think the advance of technology represents an example enabling well-researched classroom tactics that have previously been impractical. I think we are at a point in time in which the individual learner needs to receive more individual opportunities and technology can provide one way to provide such experiences.

The effectiveness of many important ideas need to be evaluated in practice. I fault public education for not providing the natural laboratory necessary to evaluate potentially productive practices. Whatever the motives behind the promotion of charter school options (I recognize that charter school can mean many different things), the lack of exploration that exists in public school settings has created this opening.

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