pe February 2010

Education & Tech

mLearning, highered, research, academia

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Why PPT Seems to Be So Widely Used in #eLearning

Instructional design does not influence people's use of new technologies. Industrial designers, Software engineers, UX Designers, they are the ones that have the power to influence the use of a new technology. Our job, writes Brent Schlenker, as instructional designers, is to figure out what our learners are currently familiar with and deliver a learning experience they can consume in whatever medium they are comfortable with.

Now pretend you are not a instructional designer but an avid teacher in need to start using social media tools in your classrooms. The fact is that even at this point no so many colleagues are still familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space or Twitter. They think these tools don't allow a personal way of learning, and in most cases teachers don't want to let their time to be devoured by social media tools. Mark Berthelemy, a UK based IT expert, says Twitter is "not really a good environment for a conversation."

Now, if instructional designers are the only ones with the power to influence uses of new technologies and some of the so popular solutions we know such as Twitter, are not a good place to hold conversations, one comes to think, what are the solutions for our classrooms with higher acceptation? In other words, which tool is the king and works for conversations, presentations and may influence the auditorium.

The eLearning Brothers site believes PowerPoint -PPT is widely used and gives out some strong reasons. They say "with some good thought and instructional design you can use most any tool to a decent level of effectiveness."

Is PowerPoint the most widely used tool for eLearning development?

Brother Andrew, editor of the eLearningBrothers is also an "Expert Author” on He suggests a few reasons why PPT seems to be so widely used in eLearning:

1. Classroom training is often converted to an online format. Every classroom course has a PPT and it’s usually the first thing that someone thinks about when they want to put the course online. Unfortunately too often the PPT is simply thrown online without having truly turned it into effective eLearning.

2. Everyone has PPT. It’s probably already on every training person’s computer.

3. Everyone knows how to use it (and if they don’t it’s pretty easy to learn.)

4. You can quickly create content and there are tons of layouts, backgrounds, and color themes.

5. And last but not least, Microsoft already owns the world so why not conform?

Do you believe PPTs can be retouched and give origin to a new eLearning tool? Or you think Twitter is a good alternative and can surpass the actual role of PPT, what it has been your personal experience?

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Firing All Educators Is Ineffective

At this point, you are familiar with what is happening in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where 74 teachers were set on fire after the school committee voted to fire 93 members of the Central Falls High School. They did this because about half of the school’s students graduate, and only 7 percent of 11th-graders were proficient in math in 2009, according to a note in the Washington Post.

While many are happy with this decision, there is another group who think that is a desperate measure. If we were in the production business, or in any of the marketing efficiency areas, the step is the correct. However, neither the teachers, nor the students are merchandises and were neither assigned a economic value. There has to be some mistakes but firing teachers it is the the most inefficient procedure to clear that mess.

Valerie Strauss from the does a succinct analysis with facts and wider view of things in the education complex:

Now, all they have to do is find 93 excellent professionals to take their places. Recruiting the best educators should be easy, especially when you can offer them life in a very poor town and a job with no security.

And, of course, the powers that be will have to ignore all the other influences on high school students because their poor performance was all about the adults at the high school.

Their elementary and middle school education -- or lack thereof? Not a problem.

Their sometimes difficult home lives? Naw. That doesn’t affect how a kid does at school.

No Child Left Behind, a federal education law that has driven schools to drastically narrow curriculum and use rudimentary standardized tests to measure how well kids are doing? Nope. Not an issue, nor is the fact that Duncan is largely continuing the NCLB practices that have been shown to be a failure.

Firing all the educators may sound bold to some, but it sounds sad and desperate -- not to mention ineffective -- to me.

There is no evidence that wholesale changes at schools makes a difference at schools, though it has been tried repeatedly in districts around the country -- even in Duncan’s Chicago public schools, which he ran for years before becoming education secretary.

As my colleague Nick Anderson noted in a Post story Duncan tried a lot of things during his more than seven years as Chicago chief: shutting down schools, hiring experts in turning around schools, and firing a lot of people. There results? To put it nicely, there was no Chicago miracle. Some schools improved, others didn’t.

That’s because grand gestures don’t work in improving schools. It would be nice if they did, but time and time again, we’ve learned they don’t. Making schools work is a hard, hard job. There is no one thing that you can blame; there is no single remedy that works for every school and school district.

Instead of trying to figure out where real changes could be made at Central Falls High, the powers that be there went ahead and did the desperate thing.

Let Duncan call them courageous. It sounds foolish to me. And the people who will most suffer? As usual, the kids.

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Why Do Schools Need Instructional Technology Integrators


We’ve run out of room in our schools for the clunky technology of yesterday, both figuratively and literally. We need to get rid of the old equipment, along with the old mindsets, instructional methods, and philosophies that keep us pinned in the past. But change is exploding all around us at speeds and in directions that are impossible to keep up with.

We need tour guides.

For more, read the source of the article written by Sharon Elin

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Che: The Fleetingness of his Dead

Over 40 years transcended since the assassination of El Che. I was born in the 60's and the first Milton grew up comparing capitalism and socialism in the same way many students were doing it back then. Today, the Soviet Union does not exist anymore beyond its old capital Russia. The United Sates is not the imperial power I was said so.

I know many will disagree with me but Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, is the only Latin American leader with global appeal. His legacy has ascended to the quality of martyrs through the ages: A charismatic figure in prophetic conflict with the norms of society who lived fast, stayed faithful to his principles, and died young.(1)

How Che influenced education? I will need for than one post to explain that. But certainly, there were a group of intellectuals, artists, journalist and writers who stood behind his practice and thousands of students wanted to emulate the complex and charismatic revolutionary. Two brilliant educators, I dare to say, were early influenced by immortal fighter: Paulo Freire and Domingo Sarmiento.

To Latin Americans, included poets like Ecuadorian Jorge Enrique Adoum (1997), believed that Che Guevara was betrayed by the Left and his own continent. In Che: The Fleetingness of his Dead, one of the 134 finest poems and song from 53 countries complied y translated by Gavin O'Toole and Georgina Jimenez in Che in Verse, says:

"thirty years already?
does this mean we continue to be useless after thirty years in a word without him?
does this mean there is a generation able to have been born grow and beget in a world for thirty years without him?
How does one conceive of the world without him for thirty years?
america without him?
he was doing for us what we should have been doing ourselves
he was doing what we knew had to be done but were not doing
what we wanted to do but we did not do
what inevitably we have to do but we are not doing
suddenly the bitch of history came
astonished we entered into something like an ideological vacation
and suddenly no one knew anything or believed in anything anymore
and instead of loathing and hating ourselves as if crying for our impotence
I went around asking what was done in which corner when in the entrails of america
when because they kill him they believed he had died and
announced the 'end of history'
as if we all now think the same with the disobedient exception of
chiapas and cuba..."
(1) O'Toole, G. & Jimenez, G., Che in Verse (United Kigndom: Aflame Books, 2007), 60.

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Definitely, this month marks an important date in our online life. For years, we have been maintaining this blog under different names but the last two, we decided to move it to our own website.

I assume my responsibility but I also believe Google Apps has to assume theirs. For those who have purchased their own web address via Google, know their sites must be renewed each year automatically or manually. We chose to do it automatically and had it expired on Jan. 6, 2010.

During last December we did cancel that payment with a credit card, and then we forgot about it. I receive hundreds of e-mails. I had seen some of Google but got no attention. They e-mailed me four opportunities notifying me that the payment had been canceled due to the credit card was not honored.

Yesterday, when I attempted to look at the page, surprise..., no more I followed the recommendations Google set on its help page and contact They confirmed me that the site belongs now to a company in Illinois. How, I asked the representative? Was then that I hurried to review the payments and e-mails of Google Apps. It was too late, I've had lost my website.

As I do not make actually money, rather than economic impacts the damage was caused to the internet presence @tonnet has built. Back are left over one hundred entries and links pointing to my prior website. Thank you all for those links and please do not change links yet, I hope and expect to retrieve

Until then, please keep reading us in Bookmark the address so you can remember where to find us.

Apologies to you. My wish that this inconvenience does not happen or had ever happened to you.

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Milton Ramirez

Web 2.0 Enables Connections And Provides a Community of Learners

Brave New World:

At the end of last year our school committed to embracing Web 2.0 technologies, and some teachers have begun to explore the potential of blogs, wikis and other platforms for teaching and learning. Others are still either reluctant, don’t see the relevance for their teaching, or consider the challenges in supporting Web 2.0 technologies greater than the benefits.

More and more often I find myself wondering how it is that educators can have such a different view of what education is about, and which skills are more important to students for their future. And how can we talk about learning outcomes before we procure for ourselves a comprehensive and consistent picture of the kind of world in which our students will be working and living? If we don’t inform ourselves, aren’t we way off the mark and therefore failing our students

For a comprehensive understanding of the value of Web 2.0 read the original article written by Tania Sheko.

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If Google Can Answer Your Question.... Don't Ask Me!

I'm not sure whether it was the exact sentence we saw on Twitter on one of the past edchat sessions. For many, perhaps, it looked elegant and creative, since we noticed the expression was retweeted widely.

While Google indexes over a trillion of pages, search engines are limited in a number of ways. Due to websites are constantly changing with information being added and deleted, it is impossible for the spider to keep up with all the changes.

You should remember, too, that there are information they do not read: Search engines can't read .pdf or Flash files, they can't index ALL the data on sites with dynamic, real-time information, and they are unable to get to many databases accessible via the Internet.

According to the OCLC Online Computer Library Center's Office of Research, only 35% of the internet is publicly available and searchable via search engines; the other 65% consists of private or provisional sites, or sites that are not accessible by search engines.

Search is simple, says the Google support page, just type whatever comes to mind in the search box, hit Enter or click on the Google Search button, and voilá.

That's what most people do everyday, but students are doing it in the very same way when they are to know how to use search engines, not only Google by the way. What teachers are doing to help these non-professionals of the investigation?

First of all, we need to understand what is a query. According to a good reference, Googleguide: "It’s a request for information from a search engine. A query consists of one or more words, numbers, or phrases that you hope you will find in the search results listings."

I have the experience with two of my family members, one is in 7th grade and the other is a HS Senior, both of them don't know how to get their responses from Google and continuously come to me asking: How can I look for this...or that.

Being understood what a query is, student has to enter a query, type descriptive words into Google’s search box and start from there. For example: How to solve quadratic equations. First search gives me 2,550,000 possible aswers. Results are ranked using proprietary PageRank technology and the tendency is to click on the first link the results page shows. You need to be careful because Google indents pages that are on the same website as the first result.

Of course, you might be thinking, hey, I can get entirely different search results by using quotation marks around a group of words that form a phrase than if you do not use them. Yes. But inexperienced students don't. Notice that I am saying 'inexperienced' because there are the savvy ones, as well

If you just want any results, use the I’m Feeling Lucky button and this will send you to what Google considers the most relevant result that is not a paid advertisement. We take Google as example because this is the search engine mostly used. But you can also try and, both are absolutely reliable.

The search we've initiated on quadratic equations is unsearchable, we need to narrow our search by adding search words: quadratic equations Results: 2,180,000.

Since Google automatically searches for variations, we can narrow it down putting quotes:"quadratic equations." And now we've got a bit of success,572,000 results! If we want to exclude some results, you could use a minus sign: "quadratic equations" -graphs. Make sure you put a space before the minus sign and no space between the minus sign and the word or phrase you wish to exclude. Results: 443,000 with "solving quadratic equations" and the "Quadratic Formula" on top of the search page, that might be what your math student was trying to find.

Even when you are not familiar with Boolean Algebra, it's not quite difficult to remember two words. The default operator search engines use,is AND, which searches all words:solve+quadratic+equation (Try with plural equations and see the change in number of results). Either of those terms could be used with uppercase "OR"

Your student can use the stemming which is the term used when you search similar search terms or synonyms. Useful when your student can't even think of a word. When you put a tilde ~ in front of your search term, Google will look for both your chosen search term and synonyms. Do not put a space between the tilde and your search term. Ex. ~homework

There are other tips as the one over at The Cool Cat Teacher. Practical when you want your students search for educational videos other than those in YouTube only.

A specific piece of information, sometimes can get buried in a long web page and wouldn't be easy to spot the results, under these circumstances the best advice is to click on the Cached link and check the complete snapshot of the original page.

We don't even go over the misspelling issues. Sometimes the robot itself catches the problem and in bold letters from different color asks you: Did you mean... It does not occur all the times. Stress that your young researchers work carefully when doing their projects.

So, I will send my students to look deep the internet but I will tell them is wrong to think of the over heard expression: You can find everything on the internet. And at least, I will give them these tips and ask them to come to me for any other questions, anytime they need help. As Vicki A. Davis puts it once in answer to one of our posts, the internet is a tool, not the panacea.

Other quick tips. To nest searches, use parentheses () ex. math homework (help|resources). To search for statistics: scientific research ~statistics|~data|~table. Looking for glossary definitions gathered from various online sources? Try: define: potachovizar.

Also read:

- Google's lesser-known options.
- Google: How it Works
- Search Effectively Online.[video]

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Three Crucial Elements to Become Educated: Reading, Writing and Numbers.

Teacher...and teaching is an interesting blog I've discovered (and subscribed) managed by Seattle Emeritus Professor, Les Blackwell. He goes over the divided decision where the Seattle school system, moved to redefine their mathematics curriculum, and parents and teachers who have challenged the board new policy.

Blackwell writes that, "much of the mathematics dilemma can be found in our philosophy of education." And he continues:

An example of a curriculum within Idealism would be the Great Books Selection. Experts in literature would select what they thought was the best and presented it to the rest of us. How about mathematics--how would that get taught? Numbers would be presented to the student. Probably addition next then subtraction. Once that is managed, multiplication tables would be memorized. Rote learning. Then we face division. The teacher would probably show the student on paper or a white board and then have them duplicate the problem. Making sure the student understands would be the solving of the mathematics problems and presenting it to the teacher. At higher levels of understanding a student would be taught algebra and geometry in the same manner. An example of a problem, the solution done by the teacher and then the students does the problem.

He says that such conception obeys to the Idealism. To professor Les, reading, writing and numbers are abstractions and each needs to have a meaning connected.

With a simplified example explains Realism. Without his "How Women Learn" and too little references we've also conceded you dear reader have the advantage. However, he points out: "In the Idealism mode, a student memories the learning. In the Realistic mode the student discovers or owns the learning. Which one is the better method?"

Since this post open doors for a posterior discussion, we want to mention that intersection of idealism and realism is signaled as Pragmatism, according to Mr. Blackwell. Pragmatism is a philosophical current we still need to explain and apply to our education practice. When we wrote our dissertation thesis all those paradigms were to be perfectly understood.

You are invited.

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The Magic Attribution Technology Does Not Exist

Information Security:

Universal identification is portrayed by some as the holy grail of Internet security. Anonymity is bad, the argument goes; and if we abolish it, we can ensure only the proper people have access to their own information. We'll know who is sending us spam and who is trying to hack into corporate networks. And when there are massive denial-of-service attacks, such as those against Estonia or Georgia or South Korea, we'll know who was responsible and take action accordingly.

The problem is that it won't work. Any design of the Internet must allow for anonymity. Universal identification is impossible. Even attribution -- knowing who is responsible for particular Internet packets -- is impossible. Attempting to build such a system is futile, and will only give criminals and hackers new ways to hide.

Imagine a magic world in which every Internet packet could be traced to its origin. Even in this world, our Internet security problems wouldn't be solved. There's a huge gap between proving that a packet came from a particular computer and that a packet was directed by a particular person. This is the exact problem we have with botnets, or pedophiles storing child porn on innocents' computers. In these cases, we know the origins of the DDoS packets and the spam; they're from legitimate machines that have been hacked. Attribution isn't as valuable as you might think.

Read more about Network Security information shared by Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum

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More Media Consumption Means Less Formal Learning? - Generation M2 Report

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of Youth 8-18 years old, was presented the third week of January, 2009 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is the third in a series of nationally representative surveys about young people's media use conducted by this Foundation. It includes data of 1999, 2004, and 2009.

Kaiser's report reflects what was already found in 2008 by another study funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, where the authors actually suggested education institutions, to keep peace with the rapid change digital media has been introducing.

The MacArthur's findings and carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley, asked for a new role of education(.pdf): "Rather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, they question what it would mean to think of it as a process guiding youths’ participation in public life more generally."

As I said, prior report supports Kaiser's study. Whether we talk about text messaging, tweeting, watching YouTube videos on cell phones, or lurking on a social networking site like Twitter, Myspace or Facebook youths are spending more time than ever before consuming some sort of media, included the old box TV. Is this the reason why they feel tired, do not make homework or are dormant in the classroom? You, as teacher, are on call.

Meredith of Ypulse has posted a response to Kaiser's report. The author cites two sources where they found that in contrast with what Kaiser Foundation suggests, music, TV and social networks are generating by the contrary, happiness and alleviating stress in teens.

Kaiser's study shows that cell phone ownership among the respondents jumped from 39% to 66%, while ownership of iPods and mp3 players jumped from 18% to 76% compared to 2004. What the report fails to mention, as Meredith thoughtfully stresses, is that a lot of screen time is also spent creating and sharing content, engaging youth in ways that passive screen time does not.

And even when parent lack of the decision to establish limits, three in 10 had any rules regarding their use of mobile devices, says the report. More and more, mobile devices are replacing the talking to other people and that, as a citizen, should be a concern. Are they growing humanly isolated?

And to think, time spent texting was actually not included in the times for media consumption. It will actually increase from the average of seven hours and 38 minutes the respondents said used media in 2002(Date of Kaiser's survey) to 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption, due to media multi-tasking.

I would like to quote the closing paragraph in Ypulse because I deeply reflect on her questioning:

...Can some young people overdo it? Of course (I think we all suffer from information overload). Especially when parents don't set any limits. Will some young people use screen time to escape reality or avoid the pain of real life to a disconcerting extent? Yes, some will, and we should look out for them. Does some multimedia multi-tasking impact young people's ability to concentrate? Yep, and parents and educators should be pointing this out and helping young people to focus. Instead of sounding yet another alarm about youth and technology, let's use studies like this to help young people learn to self regulate. And more importantly, let's not forget all of the positive changes this new media has brought about.

Still, if you want to elaborate on Kaiser's Generation M2 study for yourself, I invite you to apprehend the information on the slide we insert here:

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A True Digital Native Can Expand Ideas in Ways You Had Not Considered Before.

[The internet] it’s not about presenting content or managing knowledge, it’s a new platform for communication and collaboration, for building communities.

eSCHOOL NEWS. Educators should change the way they view technology’s role in everyday life in order to understand students’ educational needs, said Don Tapscott, chairman of nGenera Insight, during a Jan. 19 Consortium for School Networking webinar on the digital generation.

The nation is at a turning point, Tapscott said, and many institutions that have served us well for decades or even centuries -including education- have come to the end of their life cycle and must be “rebooted” or reinvented for a new age.

“This is an age where human communication is possible on a global basis,” he said.

For complete article by Laura Devaney, please pinch here.

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5 Characteristics Innovative Educators Should Mirror

Agatha Gilmore writes about the results from a survey of 3,500 executives over six years. According to three researchers from INSEAD, Brigham Young and Harvard, most innovative leaders possess five key discovery skills, characteristics we need in all our education administrators and why not in many , if not all, educators:

1. Associating, which is the ability to connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems or ideas from different fields.
2. Questioning, which means constantly asking “Why?” “Why not?” and “What if?” as well as always keeping an open mind.
3. Observing, which is scrutinizing the marketplace and common business phenomena, including behavior of potential customers.
4. Experimenting, which involves rigorous testing of new ideas via prototypes and pilots.
5. Networking, which means making a conscious effort to speak with and visit others to expand one’s own knowledge base.

Every teacher is an innovator. What we fail to do is to keep track of what we do every day to manage and assess our challenging classrooms.

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Steven Strogatz Writes About the Elements of Mathematics

Cornell University professor Steven Strogatz, will be offering a series of math articles in The New York Times. The mathematician says, he will be covering subject matter from pre-school to grad school.

The information it's not intended for young people, this time Strogatz writes from an adult perspective. It’s not intended to be remedial, either. In his first installment, From Fish to Infinity, he writes: "The goal is to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it."

Where exactly do numbers come from?

After describing the dual aspect of the concept of number and decide that its conception requires a great percentage of abstraction, the mathematician comes to conclude:

"A further subtlety is that numbers (and all mathematical ideas, for that matter) have lives of their own. We can’t control them. Even though they exist in our minds, once we decide what we mean by them we have no say in how they behave. They obey certain laws and have certain properties, personalities, and ways of combining with one another, and there’s nothing we can do about it except watch and try to understand. In that sense they are eerily reminiscent of atoms and stars, the things of this world, which are likewise subject to laws beyond our control … except that those things exist outside our heads."

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