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Showing posts from December, 2010

Science at Home: DIY Labs and More

Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
December 27, 2010 Deadline
February 2011 Issue

Science at Home: DIY Labs and More

Model rockets, a microscope, a telescope, motorized kits and various computers enabled my explorations of science and technology while growing up in the 1970s and 80s.

During the 1990s, the popular television shows “Beakman’s World” and “Bill Nye the Science Guy” built on the tradition of “Mr. Wizard.” These programs showed young people they didn’t have to wait for school science fairs to do something fantastic. The science projects were decidedly low-tech, using items like cardboard tubes and plastic soda bottles.

Today’s amateur scientists can assemble a do-it-yourself lab rivaling any television show, a lab more like “C.S.I.” than the simple lab table of Mr. Wizard. And, as with any hobby, there are online communities dedicated to home science labs. Many of the participants in these groups are active in the homeschooling movement. Also, many of the people involved work i…

History of Education: Books I Suggest

Selected Bibliography

Some texts either specifically or indirectly on the history of education and education theory (pedagogy) that have influenced me. The list is exported from my Bookends database, so there might be some formatting errors. I am trying to clean up my database, but I have several thousand books in the system (and on my shelves).

Beniger, James. The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information SocietyCambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.

Berlin, James A. Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures : Refiguring College English Studies. Lauer Series in Rhetoric and Composition. West Lafayette, Ind.: Parlor Press, 2003.

Corbett, Edward P. J., Nancy Myers, and Gary Tate. The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook. 4th ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 0195123778 (alk. paper) Cuban, Larry. The Blackboard and the Bottom Line : Why Schools Can't Be Businesses. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004.

---. How Scholars Trumped Teachers :…

Contour and Dramatica Follow-up

Two months ago I introduced the idea of using Contour or Dramatica to outline a novel or screenplay. These applications are marketed primarily for screenwriting, but they do mention novels in their promotional materials. I would only use Contour for screenwriting, but I would recommend Dramatica to anyone writing a long-form work.

Contour's questions assume a blockbuster script will progress through four stages. These stages represent the emotional growth of the main character.
Orphan: The main character is literally or metaphorically abandoned and isolated from others.Wanderer: The main character wanders through events, looking for a place or role that will end the feeling of isolation.Warrior: The antagonist creates a situation that forces the main character to face any doubts and fears. The two characters engage in direct or indirect conflict.Martyr: The main character consciously chooses to make a personal sacrifice to accomplish the primary task of the story.This is a "He…

Online Courses Reducing Equal Opportunity

I have argued that online courses are not equivalent to traditional spaces and often are more of a barrier than an accommodation for students with special needs. I remain skeptical that online spaces can be made flexible enough to accommodate all students. Nor, honestly, do I believe it is right of universities to suggest to many disabled students that online courses are somehow better for them.

In the case of blind students, clearly the online spaces aren't working as planned.

For students with limited mobility, maybe online is a good alternative, but I found them less engaging and harder to comprehend. Right now, we don't consider the pedagogical implications carefully enough, but I also understand the rush to online spaces is an economic necessity for some institutions.

Since I have difficulty with mobility as well as some cognitive differences, my views of online education are biased. I like the convenienc…

Virtual Valley Predictions for 2011

A display of old televisions, VCRs and radios in Amberley Working Museum, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
December 6, 2010 Deadline
January 2011 Issue

Virtual Valley Predictions for 2011

Prognostication is a year-round sport in the technology industry, with everyone trying to anticipate the “Next Big Thing.” Few analysts guess the trends, but since it is the start of a new year, time to offer some predictions from the Virtual Valley crystal ball.

The five predictions I offer share a common theme: with media going digital, traditional broadcasters and retailers are going to struggle. As newspapers and magazines have fallen to Web surfing, the next earthquakes will strike the film and television industries.

Prediction 1: Cable and satellite television subscribers will reduce or terminate their monthly services.

When the Fresno State Football Bulldogs beat Illinois 25-23 on December 3, I wasn’t near a television, but I was still watching the game live a…