Monday, August 29, 2011

iTeach-CareerTech...A Wiki for Collecting and Sharing "Resources and Best Practices" for K-12 Career and Technology Education

I wanted to announce the creation of a new wiki. iTeach-CareerTech, for Career and Technology Education!

We are currently adding new content daily so check out the following pages for some great resources and join the wiki! We hope you will add your resources as well and be an active member!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

What a Great Way to Visualize Data

200 Countries over 200 Years in 4 Minutes

Key Innovation Drivers for Learning Environments

I’d like to share a recent blog post by Eric Shepherd, CEO of Questionmark. Eric describes his thoughts on how new learning systems will revolutionize the way that we learn and I really like the idea of competency mapping where learning is personalized and natural. I believe education is quickly headed towards a "blended learning" approach and that tomorrow's "librarians, or a crowd-sourcing equivalent" will be greatly needed to “curate” the content.

Here is Eric's post in it's entirety:

In recent posts I have shared some examples of today’s increasingly open and creative ecology of innovation:

Lack of Copyright Protection Fosters Innovation in Fashion Industry
Copying, Remixing, Plagiarizing, or Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Having explored these, and other current trends, I believe we are at a point when new learning systems will revolutionize the way that we learn. The underlying goals of these new “Natural Learning” environments will be to:

■Use competency maps to understand where we are and help us navigate to where we want to be
■Magically expose content at our moment of need and in the right context

With those goals in mind we can innovate, renew and/or change from Plato’s long-standing Academic Model to a new model of natural learning that resonates with GenerationText’s expectations as driven by YouTube and Facebook.

Enablers of this innovation will be:

■Learning content that is available and discoverable
■Inter-system data sharing to allow personalization
■Data flows to maintain stakeholder participation/engagement

Learning content that is available and discoverable

For the longest time, learning content, in the form of books, was stored on dusty shelves and indexed and maintained by trusty librarians. Books were replaced by e-books and e-learning. As crowd-sourcing tools enabled rapid creation, re-purposing and deployment of learning content in wikis, blogs, video sites, etc., as well as more conventional e-books and e-learning, we have moved from scarcity to abundance. (More on this in the blog article on Content Clouds.)

Our learning content needs to be available, transportable, discoverable, open, and accessible and we need our librarians, or a crowd-sourcing equivalent, to “curate” content to:

■Locate and evaluate valuable learning content
■Associate learning content with keywords to make it discoverable
■Tag learning content by competence and target audience
■Organize content to help define pre-requisites
■Add and maintain paradata, such as ratings, ratings by experts, usage, comments, etc..

Now we can match the learner’s context with the available learning content so that it magically shows up at the moment of need!

Key Innovation Driver: Funding of Open Educational Resources initiatives based on open standards (See articles on Open Learning Resources and What Does “Open” Mean?).

Key Innovation Driver: Content openness is scary to orthodox legacy publishers just as the MP3 standard was confusing for music publishers or as Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press might have been scary to the scribes of the time. New data models will change the business of educational publishing. The groups working in earnest on this are:

IMS Global Consortium (
Schools Interoperability Framework (

Key innovation driver: Encourage the use of Library Science techniques for Content Classification similar to Library Classification systems. A key indicator of this movement is when the Library of Congress extends their classification system to include Learning Content classifications.

Key innovation driver: Create registries that make learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored — around the country and the world. This will enable teachers, students, parents, schools, governments, corporations and non-profits to access, package and personalize learning solutions. The most interesting initiative I see here is The Learning Registry.

Inter-system data sharing to allow personalization

Market pressures drives innovation and so (thankfully) it is highly unlikely that one company will control all of the environments related to learning, assessment and the analysis of results. We expect there to be a patchwork of technologies and these will be required to exchange personal data in order for the system to have sufficient context to personalize the learning, assessment and/or coaching experiences.

Resonating with the learner context is important for maintaining motivation and enabling learning at the moment of need without requiring repetitive data entry or re-assessment.

Today’s “launch and track” standards (AICC and SCORM) based on the Academic Model have not allowed for personal data to flow freely between learning environments, thus preventing personalization and accommodations.

To incubate innovation we need to allow personal data (see Identity Cloud) to pass to the learning environment to enable:

■Content to resonate with the moment of need (i.e. content magically shows up at the right time)
■Enjoyable experiences with the most appropriate learning content mysteriously showing up at the moment of need.
■Reduce learner distraction/frustration with unnecessary data entry
■On-the-fly personalization and accommodations
■In-context personalized searches and presentations

Key innovation driver: Standard integrations that allow one environment to launch another system with learner context. The groups working on this are:

Open Data Protocol (
IMS Global Consortium (

Data flows to maintain stakeholder participation/engagement

When you care about the results of a learning experience or an assessment you need to provide the right stimulus to gather data and then provide, in a timely fashion, for the right person, analysis in a presentation format that makes sense to the stakeholder. And this needs to be valid, secure, efficient, effective and trustworthy.

In schools, colleges, and universities we see teachers, students, parents, administrators (school, district, colleges, university, local/national government, etc.) as examples of stakeholders that could use data to make decisions more easily for the benefit of those involved. If data sits in a silo (i.e. single system) if might serve the users of that system but would lack value for all of the stakeholders in the process.

Key innovation driver: Standard for Results interchange as this will allow usage data and assessment results moved between learning environments to be sliced and diced to assist the learner, the learner support network and other stakeholders. This requires open and rich data structures to allow simple exchange of these results. The groups working in earnest on this are:

Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (
Schools Interoperability Framework (

Monday, August 22, 2011

10 Resources for the Best Apps in Education

Apple in Education
I wanted to share 10 resources for "Apps in Education."

5 apps to keep track of homework assignments

Best iPad apps for education

16 Free Must-have iPad Apps

Assessment Apps

Apps in Education

Top 5 Apps for Administrators

Top 50 iPhone Apps for Educators

100 Best Android Apps

10 of the best apps for education

Top 50 Free Education Apps

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Challenging the Myth of Innate Talent

"Champions are not born... they are made."

A new way of thinking about excellence and achievement that challenges the long-held belief that excellence hinges singularly on innate talent. Matthew Syed, the author of Bounce, argues hard work and self-belief, not just talent, play key roles in achieving excellence.

I think this is a concept that holds true for our students as well. Hard work and self-belief are two traits that we must value and help to instill in all of our students. I believe that a student that seems to make exceptional grades with little or no effort should be praised, as always, but we should challenge them to reach new heights through hard work and fostering a belief in what might be. We should also instill these same beliefs in all students as I think we all have personal examples of "average" students that out work their peers which results in a much higher academic and professional ceiling than many of us.

The one thing to add to this discussion is to help our students dream. Nothing can be obtained from hard work and self-belief if there is no dream to guide them.

Please watch the following video to see some of Syed's challenges to the myth of innate talent:

Also see: BBC Meet the Author - Matthew Syed

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"iPad Apps" and "Google Apps and Tools" Meet Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Kathy Schrock has provided two great resources:  Bloomin' iPad and Bloomin' Google.

Her Bloomin' iPad page provides links (each app image is clickable) to iPad applications that target the various levels of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. She only included free apps that were "content-neutral" to make them usable across the curriculum. Kathy also tried to include apps for the iPad only, but a few iPhone apps may have snuck in!

If you have other iPad apps you would like to recommend that meet the same criteria, please fill out the Google Survey at the bottom of the Bloomin' iPad page. The results will be public so we can all benefit from each other's expertise.

Each app image is clickable on Bloomin' iPad, and you will be taken to the iTunes Store to learn more about each one.

Also try Kathy's Bloomin' Google page where "Google Apps and Tools meet Bloom's Revised Taxonomy"

The graphic above is a clickable image map when you visit Kathy Shrock's Bloomin' Google page (Simply click on the tool to visit it!)
Thanks to Kathy Schrock for the great "clickable" charts and resources! You can also visit her blog, Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch, for additional ideas and resources.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Are Some QR Codes Scanned More Than Others?

Lab42 surveyed 500 Americans over the age of 13 to discover where people saw QR codes, how they were using them, and why they were scanning (or not). Take a look at the infographic below to see the scantastic results:
Infographic courtesy Lab42
For additional reading:  Is 2011 the Year of the QR Code?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Makes a Good Diagnostic Question?

I just read a great post by John Kleeman on the Questionmark Blog that I wanted to share with you concerning what makes a good diagnostic question?

I think Kleeman's post provides further proof that assessments are a good thing and not an "evil" mandated by law. I spend a lot of my time defending assessments and I will agree that an assessment is "evil" when we assess just for the sake of assessing. ANY assessment should be built with a purpose and with much thought and the interpretation of results should be afforded the same treatment (of purpose and thought).

Assessments should be used to assist students with their individual relative strengths and relative weaknesses and to assist a teacher with their instruction or instructional materials. Please read the following post by John Kleeman:
What makes a good diagnostic question?

First, it should be almost impossible for someone to get the right answer for the wrong reason: A participant will only get the question right if he/she has the right idea about whatever the instructor wants them to be able to know, understand or do.

Second, wrong answers should be interpretable: If a participant chooses a particular wrong response, the instructor should be able to guess why the person has done so and what misconception he/she has.

So suggests Dr. Dylan William in his excellent new book, Embedded Formative Assessment (published by Solution Tree Press, and recommended). A common use for diagnostic questions is to find out whether participants have understood your instruction – telling you whether you can go onto another topic or need to spend more time on this topic. And if participants get it wrong, you want to understand why they have done so in order to correct the misconception. Good diagnostic questions involve deep domain knowledge, as you have to understand why learners are likely to answer in a particular way.

One tactic for creating diagnostic questions is to look at answers that students give in open-ended questions and choose common ones as distractors in multiple choice questions.

Here is an example of a multiple response diagnostic question quoted in the book:

There are 64 possible answers to the question; the right answer is B. and D. It’s pretty unlikely that someone who does not understand Pythagoras’ rule will get the question right, and if they get it wrong, there will be good clues as to why.

Questions like this can be hinge-points in instruction – they give you evidence as to what you do next. Do you need to continue instruction and practice on this topic, or can you move on to the next topic?
John Kleeman is the founder and current Chairman of Questionmark. He wrote the first version of the Questionmark assessment software system and founded Questionmark in 1988 to market, develop and support it. Kleeman has a degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, and is a Member of the British Computer Society and a Chartered Engineer. Having been involved in assessment software for more than 20 years; he has participated in several standards initiatives and was one of the original team who created IMS QTI. He also gathered valuable experience being the instigator and chairman of the panel that produced the British Standard BS 7988, which has now become ISO 23988.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FileStork - Request Files From Anyone Using Dropbox

I made a previous post about Dropbox, a special folder on your computer that allows you to simply drop in files and then they are instantly available on any of your other computers (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone, and/or other mobile devices), and I wanted to now tell you about another new service associated with Dropbox.

FileStork offers Dropbox users an easy and secure way to request files from anyone, anywhere. In other words, FileStork enables you to allow other people to upload files to your Dropbox without the hassle and risk of sharing a folder. This is a secure medium that bridges the gap between users and non-users of Dropbox. Anyone with a Dropbox account is able to utilize the services of FileStork. Currently they are capping the maximum allowable file size to 75MB.

There are 4 steps to using FileStork:
  1. Connect with Dropbox
  2. Send a request for files
  3. Recipient uploads their files
  4. Files are delivered and viewable in your Dropbox
I think this service can enhance the day-to-day operations of many business and educational entities. I hope you'll try FileStork.
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