Rumor – Google may offer <13s a way to satisfy COPPA

Evidently 13 is a magic age when it comes to legal use of social media. After that age, what social services learn from your online behavior evidently can do no evil. We all know that children of younger ages have accounts often with the support of their parents, but this requires that someone, the child or parent, lie. It is rumored that Google will provide a way for young users to have accounts allowing access to gmail and YouTube. The approach will likely involve parental input and the opportunity to review activity.

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Another “solution” for higher ed

It seems that alternatives to the lecture class (and books) are popular. Here is another reported in the Atlantic. I am an ex-lecturer (now retired) and textbook author so my take on these alternatives tends to regard them as naive, uninformed, or unlikely to scale. My own research focused on similar techniques required of students outside of the class situation. It always seemed a waste to take presentation time and give it over to “study”. Technology-based systems encouraging responses, reflection, writing, and other opportunities for individual processing of ideas seems better served as activities that can be flexibly scheduled.

Rather than “arguments” in general news sources, I would rather see data reported in a more careful manner. Higher ed should always welcome experimentation and the evaluation of new ideas.

One more comment. Negative reactions to the large lecture are hardly new. Every individual who has carefully followed this issue likely has their own example. Mine comes from an article published in 1967 entitled “Goodbye teacher” (Fred Keller). The notion was that lectures are poorly suited to the needs of individual students. The solution was to focus more on books as individuals can adapt the processing of written content according to personal needs (the issue of motivation never came up). If the lecture approach is so flawed, one wonders why it has survived. I ask this question without assuming we should know better. I would have enjoyed working with 25 students instead of 200. A smaller group and more interaction would have been my preference. One perspective I would encourage is to move away from a given course/situation and attempt to take a broader perspective. How do we keep costs down? Do we increase class size in some situations so that we can offer smaller classes in other situations? What purposes do we assume higher education should serve and how are these various purposes to be funded? My point – do not assume this issue can be addressed without understanding the impact a given decision would have in other areas.

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Data on mobile web use

I collect data sources on technology use. Here is a recent source for mobile web activity broken down by user age. Much of the data of this type are collected by marketing companies and not all is available for general use. This is an exception.

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Those who teach coding

The ACM has been on a mission to promote coding in K-12. Their logic makes sense – coding is important to the 21st century economy. Who can argue? Among the limitations noted in the K-12 setting are the lack of graduation credits for CS courses (either math or science) and the lack of preparation for those who do teach existing programming courses.

A recent analysis from the ACM focuses specifically on teacher preparation.

Some states will accept teacher certifications in STEM-related fields like math, educational technology, and business for their CS teachers, while in other states educators who have only basic exposure to CS but are certified to teach business topics may teach computer science.

I wonder. I wonder what the faculty at my institution would think should the CS department be expected to prepare elementary teachers to teach programming. It is an interesting challenge.

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Coding is not for everyone

The strident arguments that all students must be coders or makers will likely be unproductive. For me, it is pretty much equivalent to the argument that all must play football or join the band. I just do not understand (unless I resort to political motives) how anyone can see universal value in any of these activities. What makes football or wrestling, or theater of value as school sponsored activities is likely that these activities offer opportunities to pursue personal passions. Coding and basketball were personal passions for me – theater and art were not. What is wrong with that?

See this post with a similar argument – Why extracurricular activities are essential.

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Creative Commons – In Pictures

I have created explanations of Creative Commons before. Sometimes better ways of explaining the system surface or at least methods that are more efficient. Here is a post from LifeHacker that explains Creative Commons licenses in pictures. The graphic representation can be printed as a poster and may be helpful in a classroom setting.

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Mozilla – Web literacy resources

You may or may not recognize Mozilla – the open source community responsible for many early Internet resources. The community continues in developing content and resources and offers this wiki related to the consideration of web literacy and responsibilities.

The Web Literacy Map is part of Mozilla’s ongoing goal to create a generation of webmakers – those who can not only elegantly consume but also write and participate on the web.



You may find this information useful as an instructional resource.

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Scratch Jr

Coding for kids is in. MIT and the Scratch programming environment have been pioneers in this area which is also sometimes labelled as computational thinking.

Scratch Jr is the newest offering – a way for learners 5-7 to have coding experiences. As is the case with many environments for younger learners, Scratch Jr makes use of “tiles” that are arranged (the program) to control a character.



This is the iPad app (free).

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What – iPhoto synch is mandatory

I often travel with a Macbook Air because it is small, light, and I can fit it in my camera bag. The downside of my computer is that it has such a small storage capacity. I discovered something today that concerns me. When you upload images from iPhoto to Flickr, you evidently cannot delete the images from your computer or the online images will also be deleted. I am not certain I understand the logic of this connection but Apple says it is true. I hope I have always read the fine print, but now I am concerned.

I understand the importance of a backup and the understanding that online storage alone does not count as a backup. My strategy is to upload twice – once to Flickr and once to Trovebox. Why must I also keep my collection of photos on one of my computers?

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Project Noah

Project Noah combines my interest in field biology and photography. The concept is that amateurs upload photographs they have taken and are willing to share. I limit my uploads to images I have taken at our Wisconsin cabin. Photos can be identified or not (the small frog photo I just uploaded I think is an immature Gray Tree Frog, but this is a guess). Others can respond with additional information. There are special challenges and options for educators.

Project Noah offers apps for iOS and android encouraging the use of phones for photography.




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