NerdTrivia as a Method of Assessment

Nerd Trivia  is a Twitter based interactive  game where questions are asked and answers are given via direct message. An @ message is generated to indicate whether or not your answer was given as correct. I had never really considered this as a tool for education it was a distraction (a happy one at that). However, after reading about how it was constructed using Twitter’s API, I got to thinking about how this idea could be extended to education. Sure, there is a natural fit in the K-12 realm, where drilling and memorization has to occur out of necessity to form the building blocks for later knowledge. But those idea do extend to higher education in some respects. The open ended questions are a good way  (well better than, say multiple choice) to test one’s knowledge – sure they could google the answer – but in the context of a course – does it matter how the student gets to know the answer? Whether they find it themselves or know it from a lecture, or video they’ve viewed it does not seem to me important. What is important is that they were driven to find it.

What I Use My iPad For

I use my iPad to check e-mail, view websites and general surf. Yes I could use a laptop (except my laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad’s power supply died a year after purchase, repaired once, lasted another month, then died again), but a laptop is much less elegant than the iPad, plus there’s a bunch of apps (Instagram, FaceTime) that live in the iOS device world that don’t exist elsewhere. I have looked at some music making apps (the Korg DS-10 and Garage Band) and they look good, but I have concerns about cloud based storage (not sold on the idea) and if the device dies, I have to pay heftily to get another device and then re-sync the app. Not elegant in management. In software, it’s the same on my PC, but it feels normal and I have a workflow for it.

I use it as a consumption device primarily, which is the intended design. I’d like to get a HDMI out so I could shoot my window to the large TV – maybe that’ll come in time.

More EduDIY Stuff

I can’t in good faith (a word I use very carefully) believe that the only example of Learning that can be found on the web is the arduino electronics framework. At least that’s what I’ve taken from this e-book: Learning Freedom and the Web. While it’s positioned as a manifesto, gallery curated guide or puff piece for Mozilla – it falls flat of doing what open source is good at, not worrying about how good it is and getting the job done. It misses the mark. This comes off as some sort of Microsoft-lite apology piece. Now, admittedly I’m not a fan of the author, but I am a fan of the content. I can put aside my thoughts of the author in this case, because I love the stuff in the book so much. However, I’m not impressed at the connections between the three distinct concepts (and I think there’s easy ones to make that aren’t done very well here). I think there’s a definite hands-on bent that could’ve been strengthened by bringing in how other people do it and elaborating on why the Mozilla approach (for lack of a better term) is better. The Arduino chapter could’ve gone into detail about it’s connection to PureData an open source Max/MSP competitor, which would’ve fleshed out the idea that open source is educational and better than the commercial versions.

Comments Commentary

Commenting is apparently all the rage again. Well, whether or not turning off comments is an anti-democratic statement, or just a push to comment on one’s own blog… that’s the discussion really. Here’s a good summary of how some folks handle comments, go there review the ideas and come back. OK, so I felt compelled to write a longer piece, but that’s because I’m moved to. I suspect that most people who do not own a blog, or their own space, would not. They might however, consider leaving a comment. There two basic arguments for leaving comments on:

1. It’s the whole idea behind what makes the Internet great. Communication. Two-way communication, in fact, not just a faucet of information that spits out words when you turn it on.  Isn’t the whole point of a blog to engage in an exchange of ideas? I typically don’t respond to people who have comments turned off. I don’t read D’arcy Norman’s blog because it’s a dead end. While he may be pushing out great ideas, and I’m sure he is, because he’s written consistently good stuff. I don’t bother with it. There is a clear statement (which is not intended, I’m sure) that my opinion doesn’t matter. You see I like commenting on other’s article in a way that’s immediately reflected on that article/post. Most people won’t bother clicking through trackbacks, nor searching for responses. They aren’t that invested in it. Moreover, if you don’t want to be bothered to curate your own blog posts why should I?

2.  You create a walled garden of readers and feedback by turning comments off. Someone who stumbles on your site, who doesn’t have their own Internet presence, might comment if you gave them a chance. In fact, it might be their only way to comment (besides e-mail, which seems more and more to be an imposition rather than a service). So why take it away from them? It’s not taking away their voice, but it is taking away the opportunity. So why do it? I get that it feels more “yours”, which is an argument that D’arcy Norman makes – however, the Internet is not your, mine or anyone’s. It’s ours. So if you want part of it for you, keep it to yourself. But don’t expect someone else to write about it.  I have an Internet presence, but I doubt I would’ve started had I been unable to see the exchange that goes on between Downes and the people he interacts with. It wasn’t his writing that spurned me to action but the discussion around it.

Questions for 2012

1. Does the Pearson LMS gain traction with anyone seeing as Desire2Learn and Blackboard have both integrated with Google Apps for Education? It’s interesting for me because the University I work at now is looking at replacing their internal e-mail system with Gmail for students to start off with, but will later expand that to everyone. They’ve also made an announcement that Google Apps for Education are coming, which I think is a huge deal, but everyone else seems to not be talking about too much.

2. Will web mining for information be a growth concept in 2012? I’ve seen Pattern, a python based toolset to access information, as well as sites developed like Ifttt which makes programming logic available to the masses in an easy to understand format (almost like Yahoo Pipes). There’s a lot of hope for Ifttt, at least from my perspective, it does take a bit to manipulate to get it to work.

3. Does MITx make an impact? I suspect it will, it could change the whole model of distance education and if it’s MIT that’s assessing and stamping approval, that’s a huge thing. However, does it mean that the credibility of MIT as a credential granting source takes a hit (ie. does more people with MIT education mean that it is worth less in the long term?) or are we looking at a real paradigm shift, where the credential means less and the knowledge exemplified means more?

4. Android tablets are cheap, but are they any match for the quality (and sheer amount of apps available for media creation) of an iPad in education? I know there’s no evidence to suggest that iPads help learning (starts halfway down that page), however it does allow a form factor that beats a laptop as a mobile learning device – as we could consider any Internet enabled device a learning device – it’s up to that pesky user to actually do something with it rather than play Angry Birds or Super Stickman Golf. By the way, Android tablets also have Angry Birds. And Super Stickman Golf – so consider your productivity screwed on either device.

5. Will Learning Technologists become even more important a bridge for faculty and technology? I provide support for the LMS at the institution but I also can help design learning, use different strategies and suggest ways to embed learning deeper by using different tools in and outside the LMS. I’m a big fan of wikis providing they are used in a way that support and demonstrate the learning. I think there’s two ways institutions can go – one tell faculty to just worry about teaching and research, and let the technical side be developed by a techie. The other is to demand the faculty learn the technology, and use it to be supported by a techie. Either way, the technologist is there to support. I think the successful institutions will have technologists that can be given room to explore where the technology is going without being too far ahead of the faculty needs. That sweet spot is hard to find, and lots of institutions will fail at it.

Answers for 2011

Well, I guess a year’s time is as good as any to have some answers – even if the answer may very well be no answer. For the original post see: Questions for 2011. Yes, there will also be a Questions for 2012.

1. What makes anyone think that the video games push (mostly by the iOS platform devices, but Xbox, Playstation and Wii) has anything to do with formal education? 

Well, I don’t know if gamification gained any traction, but things like achievements in video games have lent themselves to things like badges. I suspect that my original assertion that it will be marginalized, will remain until someone can quantify and measure the whole process, much like they’ve tried to do with standardized testing.

2. Why haven’t educational institutions really pushed for a mobile learning environment? 

I think there’s been some motion here – certainly the open courses are structured so that they are mobile friendly, and the big two LMS vendors (Desire2Learn and Blackboard) are both becoming more mobile friendly, I suspect the resistance comes from the institution’s inability to control and verify that a potentially mobile student may not be that student, and the only way to assess a person is still in-person. I don’t think it matters anymore, in work most people will use the Internet to research a possible solution to whatever problem they face, so knowing something isn’t as crucial as it once was. Knowing something however does allow you to find a solution sooner – making you a more efficient worker – which is what capitalism wants.

3. Will the consolidation of the web conferencing tools that education typically use (Wimba and Elluminate) mean that new companies with new models will arise? 

Well, they haven’t arisen yet, but there’s a plethora of tools out there to replace Blackboard Collaborate or whatever it’s called this week. However, no one has put together the killer app – which I hope is the form the web conferencing takes – mobile native, low bandwidth friendly, and most of all, accessible.

4. Wither edupunk? 

Yup. edu-post-punk should be interesting.

5. What will Pearson as a publishing giant and accredited University mean? 

Turns out, not much. Unless you consider an extremely walled off garden of textbooks in a proprietary LMS with Google Doc integration something.