Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Technology Trends for 2012

Rob Enderle recently reported his Top Technology Trends for 2012 in TechNewsWorld. According to Enderle:
Windows 8 is a trend in and of itself, and it represents the biggest bet that Steve Ballmer's Microsoft has ever made. The company is going to singlehandedly blur the lines between PCs and tablets and hope that users don't get confused. This will bring touch into the mainstream of the PC market and narrow the gap between notebooks and tablets.
Whether it's the success of Siri or the decline of email and the cable box, I think you will find several trends that will interest you.

Click HERE to read the Top Technology Trends for 2012 in it's entirety.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Season's Greetings

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Twelve Days of Testing

I thought I would share the Twelve Days of Testing since final exams are beginning and I obviously seem to be getting into the holiday spirit....
  1. Create a successful testing environment
  2. Follow the recommended time for administering tests
  3. Establish rapport with examinees
  4. Limit test anxiety
  5. Provide test security and eliminate cheating
  6. Understanding the numbers I, II, III, IV
  7. Interpreting test scores
  8. Analyze individual tests scores across all levels - instructor, district, and state
  9. Provide positive reinforcement and build upon an examinee’s relative strengths
  10. Remediate an examinee’s relative weaknesses
  11. Implement improvements across all levels
  12. Read and learn “The Secret of Writing Multiple Choice Test Items”
Happy Holidays! J.T.

Establishing Rapport with Examinees

I just wanted to take a minute to explain how important it is to establish rapport when administering a test. In other words, you need to obtain the confidence and cooperation of an examinee or the results may not accurately reflect the examinee's true abilities.

Many students may wonder why they have to take a test or in many cases "another test" and how this test will affect their future. Be ready for this question and even if the question isn't asked provide reassurance and support to ease any apprehensive feelings. During the examination, an examinee may have feelings of stress and it is always permissable to provide sympathetic reassurances such as praising their efforts or making understanding comments (never imply or state if their response was correct or incorrect).

An examiner should ALWAYS help an examinee maintain a sense of self-esteem and self-acceptance.

Here are some suggestions for establishing and maintaining rapport:
  1. Greet the examinee by their first name
  2. Tell the examinee your name
  3. Provide a brief description of the purpose of the test
  4. Be confident and respectful to the examinee
  5. Help the examinee feel at ease thoughout the process
  6. Encourage an examinee for their effort rather than praise them for the results
  7. Convey the message that you are sincerely interested in their success
  8. Be supportive in the event of failure
This is in no way an all inclusive list, but these eight items should be considered the basics when establishing rapport and there is nothing more valuable than experience when establishing rapport and administering a test.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dyslexie is a Typeface for Dyslectics


I found an interesting website and video that I wanted to share with you concerning dyslexia (a developmental reading disorder that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols).

According to the site studiostudio, Dyslexie is a font that:
"is especially designed for people with dyslexia. When they use it, they make fewer errors whilst they are reading. It makes reading easier for them and it takes less effort. The Dyslexia font is used by several schools, universities, speech therapists and remedial teachers.

Independent research undertaken by the University of Twente, proved that the Dyslexia font improves reading results.

Research
The study at the University of Twente showed that people with dyslexia made fewer reading errors when they use the dyslexia font compared using standard font.

A part of the conclusion of this study is:
The people with dyslexia made fewer errors, than normal readers, on the EMT when using the font “Dyslexie”. This is an indication that reading with the font “Dyslexie” decreases the amount of reading errors."
I haven't read anything else on the "Dyslexie Font" but it would be interesting to know if it truly works???

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering..."A date which will live in infamy"

Photograph courtesy the National Park Service, The USS Arizona Memorial Photo Collection
Today marks the 70th anniversary of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II (December 7, 1941).

National Geographic has created "The Interactive Pearl Harbor Attack Map" which is a great resource to learn and explore about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This map and timeline is accompanied by short voice narrations for each stop along the timeline of the attack. You can also click on the map to discover more information on the attack or listen to comments from those who were involved in the infamous attack.

Please remember those who have served the United States of America and those who continue to do so!

Other resources:
World War II Valor NPS
National Park Service Photo Gallery
National Geographic Photo Gallery
Overview of the attack on Pearl Harbor
Date Which Will Live in Infamy
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Pearl Harbor Address (video)
Pearl Harbor Attack: Emergency Radio Broadcast Announcement

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Is What the Desk of the Future Looks Like

Mashable had the following article that I wanted to share with you (Stan Schroder, Mashable Tech, November 21, 2011):

EXOpc has posted a video of its EXOdesk — an interactive desk environment that lets you do all sorts of tasks on a virtual space on your desk — in action and it looks amazing. See what you think: [video]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Understanding the “Depth” of Testing

What do you think are good synonyms for the word “test?” Evil, horrible, despicable…should I add more? I get those comments and more from a wide variety of people and groups. I sometimes feel hated as I can almost feel the knives in my back, but to be honest with all of you, testing really is a good thing!

For testing to be considered a good thing, we have to consider much more than just the test score. Just as in the picture on the right, the “Test Score” is only the tip of the iceberg, underpinned by “Program Improvement,” “Instructor Improvement,” and at its greatest depth, “Individual Student Improvement.” Without the “Individual Student Improvement,” evaluation of the “Test Score” is not totally meaningful or useful.

The “Test Score,” or the tip of the iceberg, is actually comprised of many factors such as:
  • Reliability and validity of the test itself
  • Intellectual functioning
  • Genetics programming
  • Maturational status
  • Environmental influences
  • Personality, social, and gender influences
  • Education and training
  • Life and work experiences
  • Testing environment
  • Examiner characteristics
The score is also important to many different stakeholders and therefore, there are many reasons for why we test (educational, psychological, legislative, etc.) At the present time, most educational discussions seem to focus solely on accountability and there are justifiable reasons for that. As long as money is involved, there will always be that argument, but that isn't what I consider testing in its “purest” theoretical form (more about the “purest” form later).

Just under the waterline on the iceberg is “State Improvement” or program improvement. Test scores, when aggregated and analyzed across a state or geographical area, can lead to overall program improvement. In order to use scores in a valid way to make decisions about students or programs, we must also remember that we must clearly define and measure the psychological/educational constructs or traits that a test purports to measure. Once this is accomplished, there are several things that we can analyze at this level such as whether the curriculum matches up with the specified state standards and the high level of thinking in those standards? If not, should a different curriculum be used or should the existing curriculum be revised? Should professional development be implemented across the state to ensure that the standards are being adequately addressed?

The next thing we should consider is “Instructor Improvement.” Has the instructor addressed all of the standards during instruction or has the curriculum been fully utilized? Does the instructor utilize effective teaching methods? As long as the tests are aligned with the standards then the instructor can aggregate and analyze their own student’s scores and improve their own instructional performance. This level could also encompass the local school site and the administrator could make recommendations for improvement across grade-level or academic area.

We now find ourselves at the greatest depth of the iceberg…“Individual Student Improvement.” This is what I consider the “purest” reason for assessing students. First and foremost a test involves an "individual" and it is simply a point in time reference of a student's ability on a set of predetermined standards/objectives. The “individual” is where we, at times, tend to lose our focus, but we should be mindful that preparing a student for education, the workplace, and for life is our goal and the reason for instruction and assessment.

I think there are two primary views that most people consider when testing and I would hope that we consider both of these views and others when evaluating individual results:

One view …is to determine whether or not the students have mastered the objectives.

Another View …is to identify individual relative strengths and weaknesses and to help the student by building upon relative strengths and by remediating relative weaknesses.

In other words, how do we help an individual student become as prepared for their future as they can be? Testing can be a difficult thing for a student as the results will demonstrate the concepts that they could not recall, did not understand or did not know. Test anxiety can also be a factor that affects performance, but we should communicate that most students will have an area of relative weakness and that a test not only points out what they don't know, but what they DO KNOW. After all, even your best students may demonstrate an area of relative weakness. For example, if a student scored 94/100 on an exam, but every question missed was in a specific area, then we should never just hand the results back and say, "Great job!" We should say, "Great Job!' and use positive reinforcement as we address their area of relative weakness. Assessment, in an educational setting, is a form of important feedback and it should discriminate, not against individuals, but across variables as we seek to maximize their learning.

To briefly summarize, a student will find success on any educational test when their ability and effort are effectively combined with instruction and resources. This is really a fluid equation as one portion of this concept may be weighted more heavily than another and this may effectively offset a weakness in any portion of the equation. The key is to analyze the results from a number of different perspectives and to always ask, "WHY?" We should always analyze the results and use the information to modify our instruction according to a student's needs. We should never receive an individual student's test score and just file it away.

My main point is that many internal and external factors (home environment, socio-economic status, genetics, cognitive ability, testing environment, specific learning disabilities, etc.) contribute to a test score and we should always do our best to analyze the results for each individual student.

Our goal is to try and understand "ALL" of the factors that comprise an individual score and to maximize each and every student’s learning experience.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Career Focus Magazine - Another New Product from CIMC

I wanted to introduce you to a new product from CIMC. Career Focus is a new career exploration and preparation guide. This 32-page, full-color magazine combines essential guidance with web activities and "skill builder" opportunities to help prepare users for college and the workplace.

Topics include career clusters and pathways; plans of study; personal selling points; online tools; college planning checklists; interview strategies; and keys to career success. Career Focus also provides workplace re-entry strategies for those who have been absent from the workplace for a number of reasons. It is a concise guide to planned success for high school students and adults.


Contact the Customer Service Division at 800.654.4502 to place your order today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TweepsMap: Map Your Twitter Followers

I found an interesting site called TweepsMap that allows you to visualize your Twitter followers by country, state, or city. I have always been a big fan of Google Analytics for this blog, but TweepsMap helps with my curiosity of just where my followers are coming from. I also think TweepsMaps can assist you in determining your marketing effectiveness with Twitter.

According to the site:
Will you send tweets without my consent?
No, we only send tweets if you keep the automatic Tweet checkbox on the home page selected, or explicitly click the Tweet button on the map

Why do I need to authorize TweepsMap every time I visit the site?
We don't store the access token, once you leave our website and your session expires we delete the authorization token you provided us from Twitter

Will you store my twitter authentication credentials once I leave your site?
No, we only keep your authentication token as long as you stay on our website.

Not all my followers are showing on the map?
Some twitter accounts don't have their location set, or is not set to a city, state or country hence we are unable to determine the location of these accounts. Our tests have shown that less than 10% of followers don't resolve to accurate locations.
Try TweepsMap and let us know what you think.

25 Worst Passwords of 2011

Is "password" your password? If so change it immediately! I realize the temptation to use a simple password that you can remember and to use it on all of your accounts, but it isn't very smart. If they can hack one account then the next account will be hacked (let's say your bank account).

SplashData created the following list of 25 worst passwords based on millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. Here is the top 25:

1. password
2. 123456
3.12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123
21. 654321
22. superman
23. qazwsx
24. michael
25. football
 
According to Splashdata CEO Morgan Slain:
"...if consumers or businesses are using any of the passwords in the list, their passwords should be changed immediately."
 
"Hackers," Slain said, "can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords. Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft," Slain said. "What you don't want is a password that is easily guessable. If you have a password that is short or common or a word in the dictionary, it's like leaving your door open for identity thieves."
 
Even though thieves have more sophisticated hacking tools at their disposal today than ever before, they still tend to prefer easy targets, Slain said.
SplashData offers some basic advice to make your passwords more secure:
  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters.
  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites.
  • Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.
Please read the article in its entirety at: When "Most Popular" Isn't A Good Thing: Worst Passwords of the Year – And How to Fix Them

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

50 Free Apps We’re Most Thankful For

Image from Lifehacker.com
Earlier this week, Lifehacker asked readers to share the free apps they are most thankful for and they received thousands of votes covering the desktop, mobile phone, and devices in between.

I am happy to see that a few of my own favorites are on the list including Dropbox and Skype, but I have also found several apps that I'm not using that I need to check out.

Here are Lifehacker's top 50 free apps we're all most thankful for (and a few of their own).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do You Matter?

You matter today...Change a heart...Change a mind...Change a mood today. This is your assignment....YOU matter!
Angela Maiers gave a great presentation during TEDxDesMoines that I wanted to share with you (link):


I also wanted to share Angela's blog and a portion of her latest blog post:

The 12 Most Important Ways to Let People Know They Matter
  1. Begin and End your sentences with “YOU”
  2. Acknowledge Everyone
  3. Listen With Interest
  4. Click HERE to read the rest of Angela's list.
Please take a few minutes to read the rest of her post. See what a little encouragement does for this kid?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jane Hart's 2011 Update: Top 100 Tools for Learning

Jane Hart, in the Learning in the Social Workplace blog, just released her final tally for this year's survey.
Here are a few quick observations from the author:
This year, as for the last couple of years, the #1 tool is Twitter. But here are a few observations on this year’s list.
  • The list is dominated once again by free, online social tools - and proprietary content development tools continue to decline.
  • The top three tools – Twitter, YouTube and Google Docs – retain their positions from 2010.
  • Other tools have moved up the list since 2010. This include Vimeo (up 41 places) and Yammer (up 37 places).
  • There are 23 new tools on the list this year, the highest placed of which is Google+, followed by TED and Scoop.it.
  • Other tools have moved down the list, and some have moved off the list completely. Notably this includes Firefox (which was actually the #1 tool in the first survey of tools in 2007) and Second Life.
If you are interested in a more detailed analysis, take a look at:
The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011 (The final list and presentation in full)
Best in Breed Tools 2011
Winners and Losers 2011
Top Tools 2007-2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Technology Skills Should an Educator Possess?


I read a post by Laura Turner on the Digital Learning Environments site that I wanted to share with you.

"20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have" made me pause and wonder about the technology strengths and weaknesses that I possess. I think I know quite a bit about many of the skills listed below, but do I know enough to help others? I think that is where laziness has set in. I probably know more than many of my peers and staying at that level of knowledge is nothing short of lazy because it serves no one except myself. I need to gain a more in-depth knowledge of these skills and share.

Realistically, you would probably not use all of these technologies, but you should be knowledgeable about each of them and how it could be/might be used in a classroom. At the least, I hope you will increase your knowledge in a few of these areas and then share what you know with others!

Here are the "20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have:"
  1. Google Tools Knowledge
  2. Google Earth Knowledge
  3. Wiki Knowledge
  4. Blogging Knowledge
  5. Spreadsheets Skills
  6. Database Skills
  7. Social Bookmarking Knowledge
  8. Social Networking Knowledge
  9. Web Resources in content area
  10. Web Searching skills
  11. Web2.0 Tools
  12. Interactive White Board skills (SmartBoard and Promethean)
  13. Website design and management skills
  14. Presentation Tools
  15. IM knowledge
  16. Video and Podcasting
  17. RSS feeds
  18. Mobile and Handheld Computing
  19. Virtual Worlds
  20. Collaboration & Communication Tools
The article also includes detailed information about the first 5 technology skills. The rest are discussed in the articles below:
20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have, Part 3
20 Technology Skills that Every Educator Should Have, Part 4

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader

One of my favorite bloggers, Sue Waters on The Edublogger, has created "The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader." The post is based upon the new Google reader interface and is broken down into the following seven categories:
  1. Intro to RSS and Google Reader
  2. Setting up Google Reader and adding subscriptions
  3. Managing Subscriptions using Folders
  4. Reading posts inside Google Reader
  5. Reading posts from Google Reader on an iPhone or an iPad
  6. Creating a blogroll using Google Reader
  7. Creating a public page using Google Reader
I highly recommend that you use a reader, if you are not currently doing so, as it can greatly simplify your life by reducing your emails and by managing your learning. If you are using a reader, Sue's post can show you a lot of tips and tricks that you may not know.
_________________________________________________________________________________
In case you aren't familiar with RSS feeds and readers:
  • The information from a blog, website or wiki is known as an RSS feed
  • Feeds on a blog (or website) are generally marked with the orange icon above or else there is a piece of text like "Subscribe here"
  • Generated in XML format
  • Also manages and monitors all the feeds to which you have subscribed
Please read: "The Complete Educator’s Guide to Using Google Reader" by Sue Waters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thomas Jefferson: A Pioneer of Personal Learning Networks?

Some people have recently questioned my "need" to be constantly connected to social media like I am. They argue that social media may be ok during their time at work, but why would they want to be “connected” at any other time of the day? What happens at "work" stays at "work"...right?

So what is my answer? Why am I always connected?

Thomas Jefferson

I know exactly what you are thinking…what does an influential Founding Father, the third President of the United States of America, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy have to do with social media? How could a man that lived from 1743-1826 have anything to do with a web-based application?

Actually, for me, Jefferson’s design of the University of Virginia and his thirst of knowledge (Jefferson once stated, "I cannot live without books” and by 1815, his library included 6,487 books) are what influence my desire to develop a shared connection with others.

Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village (The University of Virginia)
Quite simply… I like to learn and social media allows knowledge to come to me in several forms, from a variety of experts, at all hours of the day.

As I visited the University of Virginia and Monticello twenty years ago I left truly amazed at the variety of knowledge that Jefferson possessed. I’m not talking about “Jeopardy” knowledge (knowing a little about a lot), but an in-depth knowledge across many disciplines.

I know this may be a stretch for most of you, but Jefferson’s original architectural design of the University of Virginia is the 1817 structure of today’s personal learning (PLN) or personal sharing network.


The University of Virginia Magazine by Robert Llewellyn
His u-shaped design with the Rotunda located in the center provides his century’s version of the PLN. In the design of his “academical village,” a democratic community of scholars and students are to coexist in a single village which would unite the living and learning spaces in one area. This “academical village” has, to this day, been a thriving neighborhood, a close community of faculty members, families, and students for generations.

For Thomas Jefferson, learning was an integral part of life. The "academical village" is based on the assumption that the life of the mind is a pursuit for all participants in the University, that learning is a lifelong and shared process, and that interaction between scholars and students enlivens the pursuit of knowledge.

As an adult that is far removed from a university setting, a personal learning/sharing network becomes my "academical village." It is a place where I can learn, a place where I can share, and a place where interaction can drive my pursuit of knowledge.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A No More Important Time for Librarians and Libraries

I wanted to share a TEDxPhiladelphiaED video with you by Joyce Valenza. The speaker takes you through the last 20+ years and chronicles the evolution of libraries through the eyes of Sally Madonna, Sally Spears, and Sally Gaga.

Libraries are something that many of us take for granted, but there has truly been a shift in their focus as a result of technology. Libraries are now participatory and "it's a place to create, to invent, to share, and to explore." "They are more transformational than transactional." Technology has allowed students to conduct original and meaningful research...research that can make a difference. The ability to make a difference is exciting to me and a great "selling" point to students. Technology has allowed students to be timely, to be relevant, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

I have followed Joyce's blog, the NeverEndingSearch, for the last couple of years and I would highly recommend it to anyone as she provides lots of great resources and insight into a variety of educational topics. Again, I hope you watch the following video and I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of a shifted library.


About the speaker:
Joyce Kasman Valenza loves her work as the librarian at Springfield Township High School (PA)! For ten years, she was the techlife@school columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Joyce is the author of Power Tools, Power Research Tools and Power Tools Recharged for ALA Editions. (PowerTools Remixed is currently in progress.) Joyce is a Milken Educator, an American Memory Fellow, and a member of the Library of Congress Teacher with Primary Sources cohort. Her Virtual Library won the IASL School Library Web Page of the Year Award for 2001. She has won her state's PSLA Outstanding Program (2005) and Outstanding Contributor (2009) Awards. Joyce is active in ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ISTE and contributes to VOYA, Technology and Learning, LMC and School Library Journal. Joyce speaks internationally about issues relating to libraries and thoughtful use of educational technology. She considers herself a mother and founder of the school library Geek Tribe, SchoolLibraryWebsites, New Tools Workshop, TLNing, TL Virtual Café, TL Ning, Pathfinder Swap, School Library Websites, and TLGuide.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Instructional Design: Start With the Assessment!

I wanted to share a blog post with you written by Doug Peterson from Questionmark:
eLearning Design: Start with the Assessment!

I would venture to guess that many elearning designers/developers start designing their new elearning course “at the beginning” – they start writing content and gathering illustrations, then maybe work in some delivery considerations, go through the review and sign-off procedures … and only at the very end do they remember, “Oh, yeah, I should probably have some sort of quiz or test.”

Dr. Jane Bozarth is an accomplished elearning designer and developer, and her latest article in Learning Solutions Magazine is called Nuts and Bolts: The 10-Minute Instructional Design Degree. In her article she recognizes that a lot of elearning designers and developers come from other disciplines and may not have much formal training when it comes to elearning, so she provides eight recommendations for designing and developing the best elearning possible.

Her #1 recommendation? Design assessments first. Jane writes:

Too often we create assessments and tests as an afterthought, in a scramble after the training program is essentially otherwise complete. The result? Usually, it’s a pile of badly written multiple-choice questions. When approaching a project, ask: “What is it you want people to do back on the job?” Then, “What does successful performance look like?” “How will you measure that?” Design that assessment first. Then design the instruction that leads to that goal.

For example, I used to support the call center agent training for a large telecommunications company. It was important that the agents come out of the training with an understanding of the software applications they would be using at their station – not just the correct values for certain fields, but an understanding of the application itself, including how to log in, how to navigate, which fields were mandatory and which were not, etc. Therefore we knew we had to include software simulation questions in our assessments (something that can be done amazingly well with Flash in Questionmark Perception), which in turn meant that we knew we had to include simulations in our training.

Does this mean that your elearning will be “teaching to the test?” Some people might see it that way, but I would suggest that since the test reflects the desired behaviors back on the job, teaching to that test is not a bad thing. And by working backwards from the specific desired behaviors and the assessment of those behaviors, your training will be very focused on just what is needed.
I hope you will read all of Dr. Bozarth's article, "Nuts and Bolts: The 10-Minute Instructional Design Degree." The CareerTech Testing Center offers 100+ skills standards and assessments and we have long advocated that skills standards should be the foundation of instructional design and assessments. Whether it's K-12, Higher Ed., or CareerTech education, we are preparing students for the workforce. Successful job performance for our students is our ultimate goal and I think that Dr. Bozarth is correct when she states that we should, "Design that assessment first."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Transform CTE From an Educational Backwater Into an Engine of Our Economic Recovery

A recent National Review article by Andrew P. Kelly, “Beyond Home Ec: Vocational Programs Are A Good Investment”, presents a strong case for career and technology education (CTE).

The author cites several issues concerning CTE such as the “skills gap” issue, a mismatch of skills in college graduates and high school students moving into postsecondary programs, and the education policies that perpetuate this problem. The author also mentions how students at the secondary and postsecondary level desire for learning to be tied to the world of work.

The article also goes on to cite the underfunding of CTE despite the obvious need and evidence in support of it, the lifelong economic benefits of graduating with a CTE-focused degree or certificate from secondary and postsecondary institutions, and the efficiency of the public dollar when it is applied to CTE programs.

Here is a short excerpt from the article:
For post-secondary students, evidence is mounting that the payoff for occupational-certificate programs of at least one year can be quite large--often outweighing the benefits of an associate or bachelor's degree. Nationally, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce estimates that 43 percent of workers with occupational certificates and licenses out-earned associate-degree holders, and 27 percent had higher earnings than bachelor's-degree recipients.

Evidence from Florida reveals a similar pattern: Graduates with a post-secondary certificate from a Florida community college earned $2,500 more per year than bachelor's-degree recipients from the state's four-year colleges. Certificates in health care, nursing, and information technology tend to post the strongest returns, and almost 45 percent of the certificates awarded in 2007-08 were in health care and related fields.
I hope you will take the time to read the article in its entirety as "with some initiative and imagination, policymakers and leaders in the private sector can transform CTE from an educational backwater into an engine of our economic recovery."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute

June Weis at SREB shared the following article with me and I wanted to know your thoughts???
Matt Richtel, New York Times, Grading the Digital School - A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, October 22, 2011 (Third in series)

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

Click HERE to read the article in its entirety.
What are your thoughts on the use of technology in elementary education?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Carpentry Skills Workbook - Another Great Product from CIMC

I would like to announce another new curriculum product from CIMC...

Carpentry Skills WorkbookNew!

This student workbook includes 60 job sheets addressing skills in residential and commercial carpentry. It contains step-by-step procedures featuring 200+ illustrations, equipment and supplies list for each job sheet, an evaluation rubric for each job sheet, and a blank profile of training mastery (for teacher sign-off on student's skill mastery).

It is ideal as a resource for each student to supplement in-depth textbooks or as a job aid.

Job sheet categories include:
  • Residential door installation (10 job sheets)
  • Residential roof framing (8 job sheets)
  • Wall & ceiling framing (7 job sheets)
  • Stair framing (1 job sheet)
  • Cornice and gable ends (2 job sheets)
  • Exterior walls & trim (4 job sheets)
  • Cabinets, shelves, and built-ins (2 job sheets)
  • Floor finishing (4 job sheets)
  • Roof finishes (4 job sheets)
  • Column forms (2 job sheets)
  • Beam forms (3 job sheets)
  • Above-grade slab systems (4 job sheets)
  • Bridge deck forms (1 job sheet)
  • Fireproof encasement forms (1 job sheet)
  • Commercial door installation (7 job sheets)
Contact the Customer Service Division at 800.654.4502 to place your order today!

You might also like:
Communications in Agriculture
Fundamentals of Nursing
Passport to Financial Literacy Act

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do You Use or Misuse Social Media to Reach Your Students?

Does your school or state agency use social media to reach your students, potential students or other interested parties?

I no longer think a website, no matter how slick and shiny, can make that "connection" with students or potential students. I think students are looking for a social connection and not from just the adults. They want to hear what their peers are saying about a school and/or a program. Does it scare you to provide an uncensored look at what you do? I admit, the thought can scare me as well, but I think it is best to deal with the truth and try and control the discussion.

It has been said for years that athletes on a college football team are the best recruiters for future players. Why doesn't that same line of thought hold true for your school or your business? To be honest, your students or co-workers are your best salesmen. If you provide a great program and a great environment with a chance for future success, why wouldn't you want the word to spread about what you have created?
According to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, 100% of universities surveyed use social media to communicate with students, up from 61% in 2007-08. The study found that 98% of the responding colleges have a Facebook page and 84% have a Twitter account.
What about your school? Are you where your customers (students) are at? Are you willing to have an open, online discussion with your students? Are you willing to let your students join your marketing efforts? To be totally honest, social media is well past the "fad phase" and its use will only continue to grow. I think students will take pride in promoting their school and in their program of study. It will also help them develop a feeling of ownership in their school as well. 

Please read the thought-provoking CNN article by Umika Pidaparthy entitled, "How colleges use, misuse social media to reach students" for more information about using social media in your school.

Also see StudentAdvisor.com's "Top 100 Social Media Colleges," which classifies the universities on how well they use social media. It also provides great social media examples from many of the universities.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When Will Your School be Using Cloud-Based Solutions for IT?

Mark Brumley states in his Digital Learning and Environments blog:
My prediction is the 2012-2013 school year will be the tipping point when the majority of schools move to the cloud and by 2016, non cloud-based schools will be rare.

Brumley also discusses how cloud-based computing will reduce costs for school districts and state governments and how competition between Google and Microsoft will continue to keep costs free (or low) and packed with more and more features.

As an individual. I like Brumley's third major point and that is because cloud-based computing allows me to be connected anytime, anywhere. I want a seamless transition between my work and personal life and that is what the cloud and mobile devices allow.

When do you think your school or state agency will switch to cloud-based computing?

Please read Your School Will Be in the Cloud by Mark Brumley.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Intelligence in Teenagers Can Increase or Decrease Over Time

I always thought that intelligence was fixed, but apparently there is hope for teenagers (mine included).

Cognitive abilities can increase or decrease during the teenage years and it's important to keep children mentally active and off the couch. I've often "preached" how some people give up on certain kids, but these findings demonstrate how important it is that we challenge every student. Will this affect how you teach?



In the article, As Brain Changes, So Can IQ, published in the Wall Street Journal by Robert Lee Hotz, the author states, "the new findings by researchers at University College London, reported online in Nature, suggest that IQ, often used to predict school performance and job prospects, may be more malleable than previously believed—and more susceptible to outside influences, such as tutoring or neglect." As the article states:
A teenager's IQ can rise or fall as many as 20 points in just a few years, a brain-scanning team found in a study published Wednesday that suggests a young person's intelligence measure isn't as fixed as once thought.

The researchers also found that shifts in IQ scores corresponded to small physical changes in brain areas related to intellectual skills, though they weren't able to show a clear cause and effect.
"If the finding is true, it could signal environmental factors that are changing the brain and intelligence over a relatively short period," said psychologist Robert Plomin at Kings College in London, who studies the genetics of intelligence and wasn't involved in the research. "That is quite astounding.".....
...."An important aspect of the results is that cognitive abilities can increase or decrease," said Oklahoma State University psychometrician Robert Sternberg, a past president of the American Psychological Association who wasn't part of the study. "Those who are mentally active will likely benefit. The couch potatoes among us who do not exercise themselves intellectually will pay a price."
Another great resource on this subject is: Larry Ferlazzo's: The Best Articles On The New Study Showing That Intelligence Is Not “Fixed”

I hope you will take the time to research this subject further:
Nature: Verbal and non-verbal intelligence changes in the teenage brain
The Atlantic: Study of the Day: IQ Rises and Falls During Teenage Years
The BBC: IQ in teenagers 'can change more than thought'
Education Week: Study: Adolescents Can See Dramatic IQ Changes
Science: IQ Is Not Fixed in the Teenage Brain
Science: What Does IQ Really Measure?
The Los Angeles Times: IQ changes in teens as brain changes, study finds
The Wall Street Journal: As Brain Changes, So Can IQ

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10 Open Educational Resources That You Should Know About

Social media is a funny thing and I'm sure there are some deep-rooted sociological reasons for its success, but people truly have a need and a desire to feel connected and to learn from each other. I have to agree with Richard Byrne as he recently stated that Personal Learning Networks (PLN's) are better characterized as Personal Sharing Networks. "Sharing" is truly the essence of social media, especially when used for professional/educational reasons.

In the spirit of sharing resources, I wanted to draw your attention to a Mind/Shift article, 10 Open Education Resources You May Not Know About (But Should), in which Audrey Watters states:
We have looked here before at how OCW has shaped education in the last ten years, but in many ways much of the content that has been posted online remains very much “Web 1.0.” That is, while universities have posted their syllabi, handouts, and quizzes online, there has not been — until recently — much “Web 2.0″ OCW resources — little opportunity for interaction and engagement with the material.

But as open educational resources and OCW increase in popularity and usage, there are a number of new resources out there that do offer just that. You probably already know about: Khan Academy and Wikipedia, for example. But in the spirit of 10 years of OCW, here’s a list of 10 cool OER and OCW resources that you might not know about, but should know:
Click HERE to read the list!
I hope you will become members of the CareerTech Testing Center's PLN by following us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and/or our wiki, iTeach-CareerTech.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Satellite Tracking Systems Used to Prevent Exam Theft

Is testing a big business or what?

Bruce McDougall reports in the October 17, 2011 issue of the Daily Telegraph how the theft of a box of completed NAPLAN tests from a primary school in Australia caused a change in test security policy.

The article, entitled "War on HSC Cheats Beefed Up With New Satellite Tracking Technology to Prevent Exam Paper Theft" discusses how "The 13 million pages of exam papers and 1.75 million answer booklets will be sent to test centres across the state in hi-tech tamper-proof packaging with special bar codes that can pinpoint their location at any time." Exam authorities are also cracking down on cheating in the exam room and are requiring students to take a special course on ethics, plagiarism and copyright.

I think it is interesting how technology is being used to handle a "low" technology (paper and pencil) test.

Click HERE to read the article in its entireity.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quora - a Question and Answer Website

I wanted to introduce you to Quora which is a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users. Quora continually improves a collection of questions and answers and the most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

Quora also combines Q&As with social networking, so you can search for people and follow them to see what topics they're interested in. When somebody answers a question, you can 'vote up' their answer, just like you would on Digg, and you can endorse users in much the same way as you can hit 'Like' on Facebook or say something nice about a colleague on LinkedIn.

Do you think Quora has possibilities or is this niche already saturated with Yahoo Answers, Google, Facebook Questions, Wolfram Alpha, etc.?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Great Resource for Educational iPad Apps

Just wanted to share a blog called Apps in Education written by Gregory Swanson that seems to be a great resource for teachers. As Swanson states, "One of the hardest thing with using the iPad in the classroom is finding the time to go through all of the apps in the iTunes Store listed under the education banner. We have started to list some of the apps we've found under each of the Key Learning Areas."

Here are a couple of posts that I thought were interesting:
10 Best Apps 4 Teachers

As always...let us know your thoughts!

Also, thanks to Tommi Leach at the The Career Advisor  Newsletter for letting us know about this site!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The CareerTech Testing Center and Sharing


Please follow thr CarerrTech Testing Center Blog

The purpose of this site is to share information about testing issues and free educational resources that teachers, instructional designers, and diagnosticians can use in the classroom.

I believe that testing involves an "individual" and a test is simply a point in time reference of a student's ability on a set of predetermined standards/objectives. I think there are two primary views that most people consider when testing and I would hope that we consider both of these views and others when evaluating results: One view is to determine whether or not a student has mastered the objectives. Another view is to help the student by diagnosing academic strengths and weaknesses that are relative to that individual student.

As you can tell, I really like to focus one the "core" reason for testing which is the individual and not to get hung up on all of the legislative reasons for testing.

I also believe that when used correctly, technology has the power to improve student engagement and student achievement. I think technology gives teachers and other educational professionals the ability to form powerful, global, professional learning communities. These communities, or what I frequently refer to as a personal learning networks (PLN's), allows us to expand expand our professional learning opportunities beyond the traditional in-service days, occasional conferences, and graduate courses.

Writing this blog has given me the opportunity to work with some great people in the education community and I hope you will take a few moments to SHARE the CareerTech Testing Center Blog with other educators or anyone that has an interest in testing or educational technology. We will never sell advertising on this site and making money isn't our purpose. Again our purpose is to share with you and to learn from you.

Please take the time to SHARE this site with others or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and/or our wiki...iTeach-CareerTech.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address

Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder and former Chief Executive of Pixar Animation Studios, died yesterday, October 5th, and the web is full of tributes for him. Besides the Apple I, then II, other Apple products include the Macintosh, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and the iTunes Store. Pixar is an Academy Award ®-winning computer animation studio which developed Toy Story (1995),  A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), Up (2009) and most recently Toy Story 3 (2010).

For me, one of the most influential things he did was his commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005. It’s been viewed on YouTube over 6.5 million times, but if you haven’t seen it before I’ve embedded it below or you can click on the link HERE.

As he states in the commencement address:
"No one wants to die," he said. "Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."


If you just want to read the text version, it’s located in the Stanford University News.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Advertising and Design Curriculum is Now Available

We are happy to announce that MAVCC's Advertising and Design curriculum is available for purchase!!

Advertising and Design is available as a Teacher Edition and as a Student Edition. The Teacher Edition includes a Teacher CD and one Student Edition. The Student Edition consists of a Student CD and a spiral-bound Student Guide.

The Teacher CD contains customizable Word files for the learning activities sheets, written tests, and unit reviews, as well as PowerPoint presentations for each unit. Test banks are also available for each written test and unit review. These RTF files can be used in testing software, such as ExamView.

The Student Edition consists of a spiral-bound Student Guide that contains the unit objectives, information sheets and student supplements, and a Student CD that contains interactive assignment sheets and job sheets. The Student CD also contains various student resource files, as well as two optional units and a printing supplement. Please note that you will receive a discount, if you order six or more Student Editions.

These competency-based materials are structured so that instructors and students have a clear understanding of what will be covered and how students will be evaluated as they move through each unit of instruction. The contents of Advertising and Design are tied to measurable and observable learning outcomes that align with PrintED’s Advertising and Design competencies.

To download a sample unit from this book, the Instructional/Task Analysis, PrintED Crosswalk, and Basic Skills Matrix, visit http://www.mavcc.com/resources.htm.

For more information about this publication or to place an order, visit the MAVCC online catalog, or contact their customer service department at 1.800.654.3988, or e-mail Cheryl Dorris at cdorr@okcareertech.org.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags

What is a hashtag?

The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark a keyword or a topic in any Tweet. A Twitter user can categorize or follow topics with hashtags.Those hashtags (usually) mean something and are a great way to get a tweet to appear in search results or discussion monitoring. Some of my favorite hashtags are #CareerTechTest#CTE, #acte, and #CareerTechEd.

Please read The Full List of (Nearly) All Educational Hashtags (390 educational hashtags) on Edudemic.com.

I hope this helps you find some great Twitter chats to follow, like #edchat, and it will also help your Tweets gain additional exposure.

Please follow the Career Tech Testing Center on Twitter for information on testing, skills standards and educational technology issues.

34 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

So you have Twitter...now what? Try a great resource by @tombarrett on the EDTE.CH blog entitled 34* Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom!

This is a Google Doc presentation and it's constantly updated with new ideas. Take a look and I hope you can add some great ides!

Also look at:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nearly 200 Websites to Find Out About Anything and Everything

Jane Hart, the founder of The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, has created a list of nearly 200 websites which provide information and/or instruction on a wide range of informational and educational topics. According to the site:
This is an alphabetical list of nearly 200 websites ... that include general reference resources, how-to guides, wikis, how-to videos, podcasts, courses, lessons, tutorials (including open courseware), e-books as well as other reference resources and places to ask questions both online and on your mobile.  The resources are suitable for learners of all ages: students as well as workplace learners and lifelong learners – as well as teachers, educators and trainers.
Click HERE to learn about the 198 sites that Jane has provided. I guarantee that you will find some new and interesting sites that you can learn from!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

7 Long Island Students Arrested in SAT Cheating Scheme

According to MSNBC: (9/28/2011)
A college student flew home to New York to impersonate high schoolers who paid him to take the SAT on their behalf, and even took the exam twice in one weekend under different identities, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Between 2010 and 2011, six students at Long Island's Great Neck North High School paid Sam Eshaghoff, 19, between $1,500 and $2,500 each to take the SAT for them, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.
Click HERE to read the article in it's entirety.
My first thoughts on this article concern where would a high school student get so much cash? Did the parents help with the payment? It does make you wonder doesn't it?

I know my personal outlook on things are more "black and white" because I believe you are who you are and you reap what you sow. Fortunately I'm all out of cliches at this point and I understand there is pressure to succeed and pressure to get into certain schools, but I really don't understand the rationale behind cheating.

There are obviously other reasons to cheat as well such as laziness or being unprepared, unethical behavior, and the hilarious excuse of not knowing right from wrong. Seriously, what is wrong with trying your best on whatever you are doing and accepting the result? If you know me, you understand how competitive I am. I would almost rather die than lose at anything and although losing eats away at me, I know I did my best and I can live with that.

I wish all parents and students would be able to accept this rationale because a test is simply a point in time reference and the result of one test should never shape your life. However, getting caught at cheating can shape your life as you get arrested and have a criminal record. That will definitely affect your college choices and potentially your career choices. Is cheating worth that risk? Not for me...

See related blog posts:
School Cheaters Often Have Personality Disorders, Study Finds
Cheating Our Character
Cheating Among Students: an Epidemic?
Cheating on the Rise Among High School Students
Schools Tackle Growing Practice of Cheating
Who Cheats? (list of blog posts about cheating)
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