Ideas and Practice

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 3/16/06

Sometimes we fall in love with ideas (hopefully more than sometimes :-) ). But as the cliché goes sometimes love can be blind. I came across a posting in the blog Creating Compassionate Users in which the author recounts an event when she came to realize that conceptually her plans for a workshop seemed to fit together, but in practice it ended up being a different story. The author was leading a tutorial at the ETech conference and had created a workbook to help the participants take notes. She felt that the use of Mind Maps to take notes was more conducive to her content because traditional note-taking imposed a hierarchical structure. (Mind Maps: think — links and bubbles concept map meets the picturesque diagram) . Suddenly she realized that most of her participants were taking notes on laptops!

I like this posting because the author is articulate about how her instructional approach supports learning … at the same time her personal account models a reflective thinking about practice.

You can read the posting at:

For more information on Mind Mapping see:

Wikipedia: definition/examples/research

Mind Mapping Tutorial

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Virtual You

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 3/6/06

I just heard this story called “The Virtual You” this weekend. It was one of those stories that makes you go hmmmmm. The Virtual Reality Lab at Stanford University has been conducting studies on whether your digital self can impact your behavior. Characteristics of the “digital self” that were manipulated were things like height and appearance (less attractive/ more attractive). They also morphed pictures of the study participants into a candidate’s image. The participants were more likely to vote for the candidate that had their face morphed into the candidate’s portrait.

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Education Policy

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 3/3/06

This week in the forum –people have been wondering about what has happened with the bill dealing with new education requirements for the state of Michigan. Keeping up with changes in policy is important because it does have a direct impact on our educational system and in turn - our own classes. I thought it might be helpful to post a few sites that are clearninghouses/portals for news related to education policy.

Please let me know if you have any comments about the sources below (are they helpful/not helpful). Also, I would love any suggestions for other sites.

I was able to find an update on the Michigan Legislature’s action on the bill about new high school requirements (See the Detroit News article) via MSU’s own Education Policy Center at

Some other resources of interest are:

The AACTE Education Policy Clearinghouse at

The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution at

Does anyone know of a site for international education policy issues?

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Game Based Learning

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 2/16/06

Last month an article in T.H.E Journal discussed the educational benefits of game based learning- currently a hot topic in education. In the article “Game On!” the authors contend that “Before becoming converts to DGBL, however, educators need answers to questions about how games can support learning, what makes a good game, and what types are available.” I would contend that we also need to closely examine how students are being motivated and to what ends. We can’t just be concerned with the end result. We also need to examine how students “get there” — the process.

What do you think?

I also came across another web page related to game-based learning that looked fascinating. Soapbox (a now defunct site) brought industry leaders into a discussion with practitioners, educational researchers to talk about issues related to emerging technologies. I must admit that I am slightly nervous because I couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the site because it no longer connects to the IAETE site. In fact a search of the IAETE site didn’t find any links to Soapbox. Still I think that it is still an article of interest because the panelists included many big names in the field.

The title of the discussion is What Can Education Learn from the Video Game Industry?.

What are your thoughts concerning video games in education? What do you see as the benefits and challenges?

P.S. Interestingly right after I posted this, I noticed that cnn had an article about a school in North Carolina that just spent $20, 000 in federal money on PlayStation machines and games. Even more interesting is the fact that they are asking the students to teach the teachers.

You can read the article, Students asked to teach the teachers…video games at

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Read This!

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 2/1/06 (Remember these are posts copied from a blog I was using for a course I was teaching)

Sometimes I wish that the comments would show along with the post. Sandy, Pat, and Katrina have made some excellent points about safety and the Internet. The issue of Educational Leadership (Click on this link to read the abstracts) that Pat mentioned really has a lot of very interesting articles. You can read any of the articles by going to MSU’s Electronic Resources. If you scroll down to “Commonly Used Resources” and select WilosonSelectPlus you can search for the article by author name and access the full text. Don’t forget that this is a paid subscription so you will have to go through MSU’s proxy server if you aren’t on campus. (That way you are identified as an MSU user).

On a another note, the New York Times just came out with an article about Podcasting in Education. (January 25, 2006) If you are logged in at the New York Times site you should be able to read the article “Students and Teachers, From K to 12, Hit the Podcasts” by clicking on the link. Once again, if there are any problems you can access any past NY Times article by going through MSU’s electronic resources.

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Internet Use by Teenagers (Blogs -Online cheating and More!)

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 1/16/06

I was perusing the newest issue of Technology and Learning Magazine at the TechLearning site the other day when I came across an interesting article in the News & Trends section. (P.S Those of you who use Blackboard might be interested in the merger between Blackboard and WebCT). You might have to login… but registering is free.

Near the bottom of the News & Trends section is a short description of the newest study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The study reported that 19% of all students blog and that more girls than boys use online journals. You can read the full report on “Teen Content Creators and Consumers” at  and find out more about teen bloggers and the type of content students are creating on the web.

While I was exploring the Pew sight I found two other interesting reports on Internet use and the school. A study published in 2002 (See the Digital Disconnect at
noted that students perceive a significant gap between their use of the Internet at school and their use of the Internet at home. They noted that there were several challenges to using the Internet at school. Some of these challenges included “uninspiring content”, tones for its use set by administrators, and quality of access.

At the end of the article (page 23) there are a series of solutions suggested by the students. These solutions included better coordination between their use of the Internet at school with their home use and access to high quality information. (Among many others)

How can teachers bridge students’ use of the Internet with educational opportunities on the Net?

Cheating Online

The most recent Pew report on the Internet at School has added another concern to students” use of the Internet-cheating (See
for more details.)  37% of the students taking the survey believe that too many students are using the Net to cheat. You might also want to check out the article to get an update on students’ use of the Internet at school.

There is already one case of cheating via the Net reported in our discussion forums… What suggestions do you have for addressing this issue?

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What in the World?

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 1/3/06

Site: Newsmap (

For those of you whose New Year’s resolutions included becoming a better global citizen… I thought that perhaps with the ringing in of the New Year it was appropriate to share a site that visually displays the news that is reported around the world. Actually, this site does more than that (and while we are at it … it is also for people other than those concerned with global citizenship).

Here is a description of their software from Newsmap ( )

“Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap’s objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.
Newsmap does not pretend to replace the googlenews aggregator. It’s objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media. It is not thought to display an unbiased view of the news, on the contrary it is thought to ironically accentuate the bias of it

For many of the teachers in this course who are teaching social studies… this is a great site for exploring current events.  I googled the use of newsmap in the classroom and came up with this example of how it can be used in the high school classroom …

Charting the news (

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Michigan May Require Online Courses

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 12/13/05

Michigan is in the process of approving a requirement that would make high-school students take at least one online course to meet graduation requirements. Also, on the table of requirements are 4 years of English courses, 3 years of math courses, and 3 years of science courses. You can read more about the changes being proposed (and soon to be approved) in an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. (Our college has online access to the articles -if the link no longer works)

Michigan Considers Requiring High-School Students to Take at Least One Online Course (12/13/05)


What do you think about these new requirements?

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Science and Math in Song??

August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 12/8/05

The MASSIVE database contains information and links to a variety of songs about math and science. As the site says

“The MASSIVE database (last updated on November 25th, 2005) contains information on over 2000 science and math songs. Some of these songs are suitable for 2nd graders; others might only appeal to tenured professors. Some songs have been professionally recorded; others haven’t. Some are quite silly; others are downright serious. To find songs that will interest you, proceed to the search/browse page. Or check out our companion site, MASSIVE Radio, an Internet radio station devoted entirely to science/math songs “

I have listened to a few of the songs and I must agree that there is a lot of variation :-).

Check it out at

You can also read about it in Wired News

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August 9th, 2006

Originally posted 12/8/05

I just ran across this interesting interactive site. It looks like it would be great for a variety of classrooms. The site lets you build your own 2D virtual object that comes to life. Actually the program has two modes- you can animate an existing model or build your own.

Looking at their forum individuals have stated that they are using it in geometry classrooms, computer science, and also art. (Check out the forum postings on educational uses at

If you have some down time during the break you might want to explore the site at

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