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.

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.
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