Friday, July 30, 2010

The 2010 Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Summer Conference

The 43rd Annual Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Summer Conference is scheduled August 2- 3, 2010, at the Tulsa Convention Center, in Tulsa, OK.

For some Summer Conference begins Sunday morning, but for most the Opening Session on Monday is the beginning of the two day conference that lasts through Tuesday afternoon.

The CareerTech Expo is also held in conjunction with the conference. The exposition is a valuable resource to CareerTech educators, featuring over 150 exhibiting companies showcasing the latest products and services available in the career and technology education field!
The CareerTech Testing Center will be exhibiting along with CIMC, MAVCC, Printing Services, and Creative Services. Please stop by our booth and say hi and look at what's new for the 2010/2011 academic year!

I hope you have an incredible conference and take advantage of every learning opportunity and network.  Take this opportunity to develop your personal learning network!

And, if you are on Twitter follow Summer Conference on #okacte

I hope you'll join the conversation!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Planting Hope

"He or she that does no more than the average will never rise above the average"
Pearl Fryar turned discarded plants into an amazing topiary garden success. Moving forward from that success, he established a scholarship fund to nurture community college students. Everyone, not just those in the top 25% of students, must find and develop their talent and work very, very hard.  Success can be attained by all.

As Fryar states:
"I tell students, you make sure you take someone from the bottom.

It's not going to be what you accomplish in life that's going to make you feel good about yourself. It's going to be the people you help make a difference in their lives."

What a great message as we begin a new academic year!  J.T.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making Connections: Standardized Tests and Intellectual Curiosity

I personally have never seen a student that was not curious about something. I have seen many students who have suppressed their curiosity when they enter school to such an extent as to be nearly undetectable, but it is still there. Human beings are hardwired to be curious and being curious is a major activity of childhood and young adulthood (and yet recently more and more students would rather be curious-looking).

So if we notice students are not curious in our classes, then we should first look at what we are doing, or not doing, that might cause this to happen. Of course I have some suggestions of places to inspect first.
Ben Johnson's post in Edutopia will cause you to stop and think about how you approach your instruction during the upcoming academic year.  I particularly like the following quote from Johnson:
Although we have a long way to go yet, at least the state standardized testing sets minimum standards for teachers to attain (notice I did not say students). The main hurdle now is to get teachers to quit teaching right up to the minimum standards, but instead, to inspire learning beyond the them.
And this quote from Daniel Willingham in his book entitled, "Why Don't Students Like School?"
Memory is the residue of thought.
I hope you will take the time to read the rest of the article and to "inspire learning beyond" the minimum standards.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Schools Tackle Growing Practice of Cheating

"Cheating in high school is as common an occurrence as adolescent acne - and has proven to be just as difficult to control. Intense competition for slots in highly selective colleges has contributed to the problem, expanding the practice to include high-achieving students when decades ago cheaters were mainly D students trying simply not to fail."

Just in time for the beginning of the new academic year, this article (part I of II) by Marsha Sutton in the La Jolla Light highlights the ever-growing trend of cheating in schools.
It just seems like whatever you try and do, cheating on exams and classwork continues to grow at an alarming rate.
Please take a look at the rest of the article, "Schools Tackle Growing Practice of Cheating" and tell us examples of cheating at your school and/or how you are trying to combat cheating.

Is Technology Changing Our Brains?

New technologies seem to touch every part of our lives: How we socialize, how we do business, how we elect people to our government and so on.

Is it equally obvious that these new technologies affect the way we think? Are the very brains of our students being changed by new technologies? And if so, should teachers contemplate new methods of instruction to teach these changed brains?
The preceding quote is from a Washington Post article featuring the cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and author of “Why Don’t Students Like School?”

Click HERE to read the article in it's entirety!

Also, a big thank you to the Educational Technology blog for leading me to this article!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Follow the CareerTech Testing Center on Twitter

I just wanted to let everyone know that you can also follow us on Twitter at: @CareerTechTest

Are thinking that you already follow the CTTC blog by RSS or email so what's the point?  Good Question!

I do run the blog posts through our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts as well, but Twitter followers also receive links to other articles, websites, etc. that I might not have the time to post about or maybe they just aren't "quite" blog worthy. So why miss out on lots and lots of other great resources?

So.... what are you waiting for???

Follow us on Twitter at: @CareerTechTest

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"8 Out of 5 Dentists Recommend"...A Hilarious Student Recruitment Video

This student-produced parody of a popular Old Spice commercial serves as a must-see promotional video for BYU's Harold B. Lee Library. It features Stephen Jones, president of Humor U. Unbelievably, the Library promo video has cracked 1.35 million views. How's that for marketing to potential students?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Found a great video on RSA's website that illustrates Daniel Pink's discussion on what motivates us. Although I am GREATLY motivated by money, Pink makes an interesting point that we are "purpose maximizers" and we have a need to be self-directed.

Pink sites an Australian-based software company that provides employees one Thursday every quarter to work on whatever they wish and with whoever they want.  In other words, administration is saying that you probably want to do something interesting anyway, so just let me get out of your way.  That one day every quarter provides an array of software fixes and new product ideas that otherwise might not emerge.

I do agree with what Pink is saying up to a certain point and that goes back to the economics of supply and demand. If I can work creatively with autonomy, mastery, and purpose then I will, at some point, feel that I should be rewarded monetarily for those skills.

My best summary for what he is explaining is that you should have a passion for what you do and if you are in management, then you should help your employees develop and nuture a passion for what they do. Allow them to be creative and to maximize their purpose!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

10 Websites To Make You Think

Found a blog post from Study2U that I wanted to share with you. I have to admit that the ten sites are a lot of fun to look at. They include:
  1. TED
  2. New Scientist
  3. Big Think
  4. Cafe Scientifique
  5. Breathing Earth
  6. XKCD
  7. Arts & Letters Daily
  8. How Stuff Works
  9. Academic Earth
  10. Eyewitness To History
 Take a look at the post HERE and get a link and a short description to each site

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Is Mobile Access to Learning and Performance a Part of Your Learning Architecture? If Not, You May Want to Re-Evaluate.

I wanted to share this interesting article written by Judy Brown. In the article, she defines mobile learning as "the exploitation of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks to facilitate, support and enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning." She goes on to state that "there are differences between mobile learning and e-learning. Mobile learning is generally shorter in duration and designed for instant use. It can be personalized and include data collection or user-generated content. Mobile learning is not about devices, but capabilities. It's about the experiences, not the technology."

"We all use mobile devices to access email and voice mail, check out local traffic, and find the nearest shopping mall. So why not use those same devices for learning? E-learning brought us anytime, anywhere learning. Mobile devices bring us access to everywhere, all-the-time- learning."

The article not only tells you who is doing what in mobile learning, but tells you how to get started, the tools involved, and addresses future considerations. As futurist Ray Kurzweil noted, "Mobile phones are misnamed, They should be called 'gateways to all human knowledge.'"

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Also check out Judy's blog mLearnopedia (mobile blog concentrating on mobile technologies for learning). It's full of great resources and I highly recommend that you check it out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery

I found an interesting article that I wanted to share with you. It's written by Trip Gabriel of the New York Times:
ORLANDO, Fla. — The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating may be here at the testing center of the University of Central Florida.

No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside.

The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot...
Click HERE for the rest of the story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Microsoft's Future Vision 2019

If Microsoft's vision for 2019 is correct, are we as educators ready? Are we getting ready?

We need to continue looking to the future and increase our skills so we can prepare our students to meet the growing technological requirements of the marketplace. Take a look at Microsoft's video below and ask yourself if you're ready to embrace the challenges that the future brings? I think it's exciting!

What is your vision of the "future" classroom?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Introduction to Social Media - For Learning and Performance Enhancement

Jane Hart, from Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day, has surpassed her own high standards with her newest blog post.

"Introduction to Social Media" is a MUST READ for anyone interested in social media.  Whether you are just starting out or if you are searching for ways to grow your online presence I highly recommend reading this post.

This resource looks at the key social media technologies and tools and how they can be used for learning and performance enhancement. This is also a social resource as it also provides the opportunity for you to provide your own experiences of using social tools for learning.

Jane divides her introduction into the follwing sixteen areas and each area has lots and lots of resources to help you understand each social media tool:
  1. Introduction
  2. Social networking
  3. Micro-blogging
  4. Social bookmarking
  5. Blogging
  6. RSS - Really Simple Syndication
  7. Podcasting
  8. File sharing
  9. Email
  10. Instant Messaging
  11. Web meetings
  12. Wikis
  13. Online office suites
  14. Personal dashboards
  15. Social and collaboration platforms
  16. Social course management systems
Please take a look and bookmark this post (obviously a social bookmark)!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Should I Include Really Easy or Really Hard Questions on my Assessments?

I frequently get this question asked as I conduct my annual test reviews, but when I received this post today I had to share it with you. Greg Pope is the author and the Analytics and Psychometrics Manager for Questionmark. Check out the Questionmark blog for more great posts by Greg and others!

So...should you include really easy or really hard questions on your assessments?  According to Greg...
I thought it might be fun to discuss something that many people have asked me about over the years: “Should I include really easy or really hard questions on my assessments?” It is difficult to provide a simple “Yes” or “No” answer because, as with so many things in testing, it depends! However, I can provide some food for thought that may help you when building your assessments.

We can define easy questions as those with high p-values (item difficulty statistics) such as 0.9 to 1.0 (90-100% of participants answer the question correctly). We can define hard questions as those with low p-values such as 0.15 to 0 (15-0% answer the question correctly). These ranges are fairly arbitrary: some organizations in some contexts may consider greater than 0.8 easy and less than 0.25 difficult.

When considering how easy or difficult questions should be, start by asking, “What is the purpose of the assessment program and the assessments being developed?” If the purpose of an assessment is to provide a knowledge check and facilitate learning during a course, then maybe a short formative quiz would be appropriate. In this case, one can be fairly flexible in selecting questions to include on the quiz. Having some easier and harder questions is probably just fine. If the purpose of an assessment is to measure a participant’s ability to process information quickly and accurately under duress, then a speed test would likely be appropriate. In that case, a large number of low-difficulty questions should be included on the assessment.

However, in many common situations having very difficult or very easy questions on an assessment may not make a great deal of sense. For a criterion referenced example, if the purpose of an assessment is to certify participants as knowledgeable and skilful enough to do a certain job competently (e.g., crane operation), the difficulty of questions would need careful scrutiny. The exam may have a cut score that participants need to achieve in order to be considered good enough (e.g., 60+%). Here are a few reasons why having many very easy or very hard questions on this type of assessment may not make sense:

Very easy items won’t contribute a great deal to the measurement of the construct

A very easy item that almost every participant gets right doesn’t tell us a great deal about what the participant knows and can do. A question like: “Cranes are big. Yes/No” doesn’t tell us a great deal about whether someone has the knowledge or skills to operate a crane. Very easy questions, in this context, are almost like “give-away” questions that contribute virtually nothing to the measurement of the construct. One would get almost the same measurement information (or lack thereof) from asking a question like “What is your shoe size?” because everyone (or mostly everyone) would get it correct.

Tricky to balance blueprint

Assessment construction generally requires following a blueprint that needs to be balanced in terms of question content, difficulty, and other factors. It is often very difficult to balance these blueprints for all factors, and using extreme questions makes this all the more challenging because there are generally more questions available that are of average rather than extreme difficulty.

Potentially not enough questions providing information near the cut score

In a criterion referenced exam with a cut score of 60% one would want the most measurement information in the exam near this cut score. What do I mean by this? Well, questions with p-values around 0.60 will provide the most information regarding whether participants just have the knowledge and skills to pass or just don’t have the knowledge and skills to pass. This topic requires a more detailed look at assessment development techniques that I will elaborate on soon in an upcoming blog post!

Effect of question difficulty on question discrimination

The difficulty of questions affects the discrimination (item-total correlation) statistics of the question. Extremely easy or extremely hard questions have a harder time obtaining those high discrimination statistics that we look for. In the graph below, I show the relationship between question difficulty p-values and item-total correlation discrimination statistics. Notice that the questions (the little diamonds) that have very low and very high p-values also have very low discrimination statistics and those around 0.5 have the highest discrimination statistics.

Have You Developed a Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

Are you feeling complacent in your job? Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Believe me when I tell you that I have felt the same way (more like stuck in a canyon though). Maybe you're not stuck, but you feel like you just need to find additional resources to help you in your chosen profession.

I recommend that you develop your own personal learning network (PLN) for the reasons listed above or for many other reasons that I haven't listed. Web 2.0 has allowed me to develop a PLN of experts from around the world that I can interact with and derive professional development and knowledge from. There are a lot of talented, intelligent people out there who are willing to help and to share their knowledge at no cost to you.

The resources that Web 2.0 offers makes each day exciting as I look forward to learning. Seems like a simple concept for happiness, but learning is truly the key.

So how do you get started developing your own PLN? Obviously you could start by joining this blog or following me on Twitter (shameless self-promotions), but I will provide you with a few more resources.

Start by blogging and subscribing to blogs (by email or RSS feeds), join Twitter, start using social bookmarks (i.e. Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon, Technorati, etc.), and join a community (Ning was terrific until it became fee based). Look at some of the people that I follow on Twitter and look at who they follow. Many of them have blogs and websites and you can look there as well. Just keep digging from there and before long, you will have your own basis for a PLN.

Sue Waters does a great job at explaining how to establish a PLN here.

Also take a look at Richard Byrne 's ideas on developing a PLN at Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are also a few resources to get you started:
The Top 20 Teacher Blogs
The Top 25 e-Learning Blogs
Top 100 Technology Blogs for Teachers
Seven Ways to Find Teachers On Twitter

If you feel SHY about starting a PLN try reading Sacha Chua's "The Shy Connector." I highly recommend it!

I challenge to push those professional boundaries and to learn new things EVERY DAY!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Learn It In 5: How to Videos for Web 2.0 in the Classroom

I found a site that might help some of you who are interested in Web 2.0, but aren't exactly sure how to get started or how you can apply it in your classroom. At Learn it in 5, you'll learn what is Web 2.0, and strategies for using Web 2.0 technology in the digital classroom - all in short videos of 5 minutes or less.

According to the site, "Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today's 21st century's digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slidesharing and much more."

Here's a video on how to set up a Twitter account and how to start a class discussion using Twitter:

Give Learn it in 5 a try and let us know what you think!  J.T.
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