Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Great News from the Library of Congress!

During February, I blogged about the Library of Congress sharing it's photographs on Flickr. Are you now, like me, one of over 15 million people that have viewed these photos? You should keep checking back with the LOC since they have been adding 50 new photos a week to the original launch of 3,100.

Are you ready for more? Announcing the "Library of Congress Makes More Assets and Information Available Through New-Media Initiatives." If you enjoyed Flickr, then YouTube and iTunes launches will bring even more treasures to the public and that can't be a bad thing can it?

A lot more sharing is about to happen. The Library's audio archives will soon be available on iTunes; its video will be available on YouTube. And you will be able to find more stuff on Vimeo and BlipTV. This means that searching their favorite portals, our learners will be able to discover a vast array of critical primary sources.

A March 25th news release promises:
"New channels on the video and podcasting services will be devoted to Library content, including 100-year-old films from the Thomas Edison studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the Library's fascinating holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination."

The LOC has been growing more accessible and more interactive through Web 2.0. Anyone can build a personal collection of library objects, visit interactive exhibits and features, turn the pages of historical texts, access lesson plans based on primary sources, zoom into maps, and engage in such activities as rewriting the Declaration of Independence You may follow the Library though its RSS feeds, Tweets, blog, podcasts, and email updates I discovered the extended media sharing shift through a press release from the General Services Administration (which is, BTW, itself followable on Twitter) last week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Introducing YouTube EDU!

YouTube EDU launched yesterday. According to YouTube's blog, using YouTube as "a vehicle to democratize learning is one of the coolest, unintended outcomes of its existence. YouTube EDU is a volunteer project sparked by a group of employees who wanted to find a better way to collect and highlight all the great educational content being uploaded to YouTube by colleges and universities."

The site is aggregating videos from dozens of colleges and universities, ranging from lectures to student films to athletic events. Some of the videos are great and some are well....

My favorite university site would have to be Oklahoma State University (Would I be prejudiced???) Check out Frank Eaton, the original Pistol Pete:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I was sent a link to Diigo.com a couple of days ago and have just now found the time to take a look. I think Diigo has some very interesting possibilities for educators, especially in researching, archiving, and sharing information, but the web 2.0 applications are what really caught my eye.

There are other websites that offer bookmarking services, i.e. Delicious, but Diigo is different because of it's web 2.0 features. You are now "social" bookmarking and the 2.0 applications creates an online community for learning people, where information, knowledge and community come together. The network creates global communities around information, topics, and knowledge. These communities then connect people through the content they collect, while also enabling people to discover and share information that matters to them with others in the network.

A few of the other features that you should make a note of are the ability to highlight text on any web page, adding sticky notes, and accessing and searching your findings from any PC or iPhoe. You can also create groups that allow you to pool resources for specific projects.

Are you already using Diigo? Tell us what you think. If not, check out the following video and let us know your thoughts as well! J.T. (Thanks to R.D. for sharing Diigo.com)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Visual Thesaurus

In January, I made a post about the Visual Dictionary Online (By Merriam Webster) which is an interactive dictionary with an innovative approach that definitely catches the eye.

This morning I found the Visual Thesaurus (VT) which is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. I think you'll understand language in a powerful new way.

Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus

The site will also pronounce the word for you, provide definitions, and list words as nouns and verbs. It will even provide sample sentences that include the word. This is definitely a very cool site.

According to the website, "say you have a meaning in mind, like "happy." The VT helps you find related words, from "cheerful" to "euphoric." The best part is the VT works like your brain, not a paper-bound book. You'll want to explore just to see what might happen. You'll discover -- and learn -- naturally and intuitively. You'll find the right word, write more descriptively, free associate -- and gain a more precise understanding of the English language.

The Visual Thesaurus is available in both the Desktop Edition and Online Edition. (click here to compare the two)

With both versions of the Visual Thesaurus, you can:
Find the right word. The VT has over 145,000 English words and 115,000 meanings. Find the word you need and discover related meanings.
*Develop a better vocabulary. See how words are used in different parts of speech.
*Use words precisely. The intuitive interface helps you find words through their semantic relationship with other words and meanings.
*Master word usage. Roll over a meaning to see its definition and example sentences that express that meaning.
*Improve your grammar. Meanings are color-coded to indicate parts of speech.
*Explore 39,000 proper nouns. Historical figures, phrases and trademarks are included. Look up Mozart, Manda or simply, "M."
*Check your spelling. The VT suggests a word if you spell it wrong.
*Hear words pronounced correctly. The VT offers both American and British pronunciations (Internet connection necessary)
*Personalize your experience. Use the Settings Panel to control font size, filter content, display up to 17 semantic relationships and more.
*Browse language in 2D or 3D. Rotate word maps in three dimensions to reveal complex relationships.
*Connect to the Internet. Right-click on any word to launch an Internet search for images or information.

With the Online Edition you can also:
*Access the VT from anywhere. No software to install, access from virtually any computer with an Internet connection.
*Email word maps to friends. Share your favorite words with friends and family.
*Explore five additional languages. Search for words in Spanish, German, Italian French and Dutch, as well as English. (International features are still in beta)
*Unlimited access to our magazine. Read features about language and the creative process and join a community passionate about words, language and creativity."

The online edition is $2.95/month or $19.95/year. The desktop edition is $39.95 for Windows or Mac (CD-ROM or download). They also provide an educational link that will give you some ideas on how to apply VT in the classroom.

Check it out and make a comment. Let us know what you think! J.T.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Are kids today worse than ever?
by Martha Brockenbrough

Here's something discouraging for anyone who knows and cares about high school students: According to the 2006 Josephson Institute Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, almost all of the high school students surveyed--98 percent--say it's important to be an honest and honorable person.

Likewise, most of them--92 percent--say they're satisfied with their own ethics and character.

So why is this discouraging?

Because these same kids admitted to lying to their parents in the last year about something significant (82 percent); lying to a teacher (62 percent); cheating on a test at school (60 percent); and plagiarizing off the Internet (32 percent).

What this means is that most kids are shredding their ethics, but not that many feel bad about it. What's more, 16 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys (who are more likely than girls to cheat) reported that they thought cheaters were more likely to succeed in life.

So it's not at all surprising to learn of a 2001 report in the Journal of Education for Business that showed that people who cheat when they're students are more likely to cheat on the job, on their taxes, and elsewhere.

The report focused on college students, who reported as high as a 96 percent cheating rate, according to one survey. The Center for Academic Integrity says that on most college campuses, the cheating rate is 70 percent. High schools aren't much different; the cheating rate on tests is over 70 percent at public schools, and more than 60 percent of the students polled admit they've plagiarized. At private high schools, things are a little better, but not great: Just under half of the students polled admitted to cheating, either on tests or papers.

The Journal of Education for Business report noted that the best predictor of cheating in the future was cheating in the past--so logically, those high school students who reported taking unethical shortcuts will keep on doing it.


So much for putting political and corporate scandals behind us. It seems there is a new generation of cheaters waiting in the proverbial wings, and they're taking advantage of new technology in ways teachers can't always predict or guard against.

Like the bionic man of a popular 1970s television show, these cheaters are "better, stronger, and faster" than before. But all is not lost. With the right messages and incentives, these cheaters can use their creativity for good.

High-tech cheating
If there's one thing that's as elusive these days as Bigfoot, it's a teenager who does not have at least one of the following:

*an iPod
*a cell phone or pager
*a PDA
*a graphing calculator
*a computer equipped with instant-messaging software
*a water bottle

A water bottle? That's a joke, right?


Water bottles are apparently the get-ahead weapon of choice for some cheaters, according to a fascinating report I read called "Academic Dishonesty in a High-Tech Environment," put together by a group of professors in the Computer Science and Mathematics departments at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

The report included a photograph of a water bottle tricked out with a piece of paper fastened to the inside, on which crib notes had been printed in 4-point font, which appeared magnified by the water inside the bottle. You have to admire the creativity of it, though producing the cheater bottle might have taken longer than memorizing the information on the card.

And, while an iPod, cell phone, and other battery-operated wonders wouldn't have the same hydration benefits as an adulterated water bottle, these devices are apparently even handier for the cheating heart.

The Drexel University report noted a variety of ways these high-tech devices can be used to give a student an unfair advantage on a test. Though not all devices have the same features, they can be used in the following ways:

*Storing and sending text
*Looking up answers online
*Storing images (let's say, a map of Ancient Greece) or taking pictures of tests
*Holding recorded audio, hand-written class notes, or huge quantities of text

The modern world has also given the ethically challenged other temptations such as:

*Wireless networks that make it easier than ever to gain access to someone else's files or notes;
*Online repositories that make it easier to plagiarize, whether it's an academic paper purchased from cheater.com (an actual site created by a high schooler!) or code for a course in software engineering; and
*Some students are seeking unauthorized help on assignments by asking questions at newsgroups, and even of professors and experts at other schools.

As technology gets better, smaller, and more closely wed to our bodies, this problem will only get harder to detect. Anyone who's read M. T. Anderson's Feed, in which something like the Internet was hard-wired into the characters' heads, can imagine how that world could look.

Cheating is bad for a variety of reasons, the most important of which are that it's unfair to the honest, and the cheater is rewarded without having actually learned the material.

But the news isn't all bad.

The good news about cheating
A variety of things can make a person cheat. There's pressure to get good grades, of course. And then there's the belief that everyone is doing it. These are some bad reasons to cheat.

The good reason to cheat--taken with a grain of salt--is that learning is hard work. Cheating lightens the load.

This doesn't mean, of course, that I'm advocating cheating. But I am a proponent of wanting to conserve energy, for one big reason: Laziness can often breed creativity.

Consider the person who made the crib-note water bottle, for example. Yes, it's evil genius. But it's still genius.

And the fact is many of our most useful inventions are those designed to save labor. You don't find many people who say, "Hooray. I get to walk 20 miles to work."

Instead, you find people who drive, ride bicycles, take the bus or subway. Each of these inventions came from someone who wanted to shuck off a little of the burden of being human. As one wise teacher told me, "Just because something's more difficult, doesn't mean it's better."

Let's face it: Those same creative impulses that inspired our caveman ancestors to create labor-saving devices like the wheel are the ones we see at work in the mind of many cheaters.

So the trick is to put their creative energy--and desire to avoid unnecessary work--to good use.

What a good teacher can do
Learning basic material is not unnecessary work. Good teachers can motivate students to learn the basics so that they have the tools to make connections beyond one class. Good teachers can make cheating harder by not reusing tests, and by using tools for detecting plagiarism. They also remove the temptations to cheat by knowing how students are doing it and punishing cheaters. Academic honor codes also work, the Center for Academic Integrity says. Students at schools where codes are in place are about 30 to 50 percent less likely to cheat on tests, and about 25 to 30 percent less likely to cheat on papers.

According to the Drexel University report, one professor who started using software to detect plagiarized work used to have 30 to 45 kids per class cheat (in a 300-person course). Once he started cracking down, the number plummeted to nearly zero.

And finally, good teachers help students find reasons to enjoy the subject at hand--something that makes learning a labor of love instead of a chore. It's possible; I've found such teachers in every subject.

Once those tasks are done, though, good teachers should reward the clever: the easiest mnemonic device, the shortest paper that made the best point, or the most economical way to conduct an experiment.

Ultimately, that's how we're going to get the next great labor-saving devices--the wheels of the 21st century. I'm quite sure that cavemen would approve.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Understanding the Numbers-IV

It's been awhile since we focused on statistics and test interpretation so I thought we could talk about the measures of central tendency (i.e. mean, median, and mode). Again, most of the information that you will read on this topic are from Jerome Sattler's "Measurement of Children."

Measures of Central Tendency

The three most commonly used measures of central tendency, the typical or representative score, are the mean, median and mode.

The mean is the arithmetic average of all the scores in a set of scores. To obtain the mean, divide the sum of all the scores by the total number of scores in the set (N). The formula is as follows:

The mean is responsive to the exact position of each score in the distribution, but it is also sensitive to a few relatively extreme scores. Consequently, extreme scores in a set can distort the mean. Overall, the mean is the preferred measure of central tendency. It is appropriate for both interval and ratio scale data.

The median is defined as the middle point in a set of scores arranged in order of magnitude. Fifty percent of the scores lie at or above the median and fifty percent of the scores lie at or below the median. If there are an even number of scores, the median is the number halfway between the two middlemost scores and therefore is not any of the actual scores. If there are an odd number of scores, the median is simply the middlemost score.

To calculate the median, arrange the scores in order of magnitude from highest to lowest. Then count up (or down) halfway through the scores (see table below).

When distributions are “skewed” (the bulk of the scores are at either the high or the low end of the set), the median is a better measure than the mean of the typical point in the set. The median is less affected by outliers, scores that deviate extremely from the other scores in the set. The median is an appropriate measure of central tendency for ordinal, interval, or ratio scale data. The median is the best measure of central tendency when distributions are “skewed.”

The mode of a set of scores is the score that occurs more often than any other. In some sets two scores occur more often than any other score and with the same frequency; in such cases the distribution is said to be bimodal. When more than two scores occur more frequently than any other score and with the same frequency, the distribution is said to be multimodal.

The mode is greatly affected by chance and has little or no mathematical usefulness. However, it does tell us what score is most likely to occur and hence is useful in analyzing qualitative data 9for example, “What was the most frequently occurring classification in the group?”). It is the only appropriate measure of central tendency for nominal scale data.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are You LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.

When you join, for free, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form enduring connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts. Through your network you can:

Manage the information that’s publicly available about you as professional

Find and be introduced to potential clients, service providers, and subject experts who come recommended

Create and collaborate on projects, gather data, share files and solve problems

Be found for business opportunities and find potential partners

Gain new insights from discussions with likeminded professionals in private group settings

Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals

Post and distribute job listings to find the best talent for your company

I know there are tons of social networking sites out there and a lot of options within those sites, but I think this is a great way to stay connected to your professional contacts. LinkedIn can also be used as a networking tool, to search for jobs, to look for new employees, or to join professional groups.

Create your account today and JOIN the CareerTech Testing Center Group on LinkedIn! J.T.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A New Culinary Release From MAVCC

Culinary Techniques, the third volume in MAVCC’s Culinary Arts Series, has gone to press and will be available in time for Fall 2009 classes. Following up on the success of Culinary Concepts and Beverage Management, the Techniques curriculum is designed to give students in the food service industry a solid grounding in the mechanics of commercial food production.

Topics covered in the publication include: Kitchen Orientation; Hand Tools and Utensils; Equipment in a Commercial Kitchen; Basic Cooking Principles; Stocks, Soups, Sauces, and Gravies; Salads and Dressings; Fruits and Vegetables; Starches; Sandwiches and Hors d’Oeuvres; Cheese, Eggs, and Dairy; Breakfast Cookery; Meats and Other Protein Sources; Basic Baking; Cakes and Cookies; Pies, Pastries, and Souffl├ęs; Beverages; and Garde Manger.

Culinary Techniques is a competency-based integrated curriculum; the contents of MAVCC’s instructional materials are tied to measureable and observable learning outcomes that align with American Culinary Federation (ACF) Knowledge and Skills Competencies. These 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. Culinary Techniques aligns with CareerTech Testing assessments in the Hospitality Career Cluster: Bakery Cook, Cold Food/Prep Cook, Hot Food Cook, and Food Handler.

The new book is packed with features, including:

Over 200 assignment and job sheets, allowing students to gain experience over course material through research, thought problems, hands-on exercises, procedures and demonstrations

Student supplements and enrichment resources, which broaden the curriculum through research and independent study opportunities

Unit review and testing materials for each unit of instruction

PowerPoint© presentations for each unit, permitting instructors to customize content to suit individual program requirements and local resources

Instructional/Task Analysis, identifying the cognitive skills (what the student should know) and psychomotor skills (what the student should be able to do) for each unit of instruction

Duty/Task Crosswalk to ACF Standards, identifying the national skill standards covered in the publication and listing specifically by unit number and objective or assignment and/or job sheet where the skills are covered.

The Culinary Techniques curriculum consists of a Teacher CD, and a Student Edition including a Student Guide and Student Workbook.

For more information about Culinary Techniques, visit the MAVCC online catalog at http://www.mavcc.com/, contact Customer Service at 1-800-654-3988, or send an e-mail to customerservice@mavcc.com.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Exhibit Schedule

We hope you will take the opportunity to visit us at one of the following locations during 2009.

As always, our goal is to provide the highest quality testing and curriculum resources that will enable individuals and organizations to reach their goals!

March 12-13
Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges
Reed Conference Center
Midwest City, OK
(Testing & CIMC)

April 28-29
Oklahoma FFA
Oklahoma City, OK

May 24-27
National Institute for Staff & Organizational Development
Austin TX
(Testing & MAVCC)

June 22-25
Skills USA
Kansas City, MO

July 7-10
SREB – “High Schools that Work”
Atlanta, GA
(Testing & CIMC)

July 12-15
Nashville, TN

August 3-6
Oklahoma Summer Conference
Oklahoma City, OK
(Testing & CIMC)

September 30-October 2
National Career Pathways
Atlanta, GA
(Testing & CIMC)

October 20-23
National FFA
Indianapolis, IN

November 18-20
Nashville, TN

If you can't make it to one of the above locations, you can always contact us at:

CareerTech Testing
1500 West Seventh
Stillwater, OK 74074-4364

1500 West Seventh
Stillwater, OK 74074-4364

1500 West Seventh
Stillwater, OK 74074-4364
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