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Comment: Every tech revolution... (Score 5, Insightful) 352

by jim_deane (#49557483) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

Every technical revolution in education since Edison's wax cylinder phonograph or prior has been prophesied to replace classroom teachers.

A brief list:
The Gutenberg press.
Edison's phonograph.
Classes by mail.
Voice radio.
Two way video.
Multi user computer terminals.
Multimedia software.
The internet.

This too will become a minor fad, blossom, fade, and find a very minor place in the ongoing art of education.

Comment: Locked down Chromebooks (Score 1) 219

by jim_deane (#48382675) Attached to: Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

I teach physics and the list of software I can't run and for which there is no full equivalent is longer than the list of software equivalents I do use on Chromebooks.

I have had to maintain a classroom lab of Windows computers to run the software I need for data import and analysis, video analysis, computational physics, and simulations. If IT stops supporting them, I could easily run all of that software on Linux on the same machines for the foreseeable future.

User Journal

Journal: Another rapid-update. 1

Journal by jim_deane

Oops, I let my major-post date slip by, 26-Jul-2013.

However, tomorrow, 10-Feb-2014, marks ten years since my first journal entry. Maybe I'll post an entry tomorrow to celebrate.

Comment: Re:iGoogle (Score 1) 383

by jim_deane (#43207137) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which Google Project Didn't Deserve To Die?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who laments the upcoming loss of iGoogle. It's been how I get my quick blog/news updates every day for years.

When they announced the shutdown, I went through the process of exporting my feed information so I could import it in Google Reader. That seems to have been a wasted effort.

I'm paying close attention to the alternatives people are mentioning here...hopefully something will fill the iGoogle gap.

Comment: Re:Doesn't Scale (Score 1) 183

by jim_deane (#42997181) Attached to: Lessons From the Papal Conclave About Election Security

There is no way you could do a US Presidential election this way.

Maybe. Scale it up in steps. Groups of 12 citizens who are known to each other get into rooms to conduct a vote. One is chosen to take their group's decision to the next level, where 12 group representatives who know each other get together to vote. And so'd only need seven levels of voting to reach the final 12 representatives in the current US voting population.

I'm using a fuzzy interpretation of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game to assume that you could always arrange the representative groups to all know each other. Probably that means that the person in each group with the highest socio-economic status would be the logical representative, since they would be the most likely to have direct ties to other high socio-economic status members of other identical level groups.

  I've not fleshed this out logically or mathematically any further than that. I'm also not suggesting that this would work well (or that it would be better than our current system), just proposing that it might be a theoretically possible way to do a US presidential election.

Comment: If the technical sets still existed... (Score 1) 425

by jim_deane (#42375945) Attached to: Has Lego Sold Out?

I used to ask for LEGO sets for birthdays/Christmas, and essentially the more motors and gears and shafts and connectors there were, the better. The last set I have like that was the original Lego Mindstorms programmable set. Sure, there were instructions (like there always were), but it was a set filled with gears and shafts and blocks and connectors. I could make anything I wanted out of that (and I did, and I was in college).

If I could still get that kind of set, and not a "Star Wars X-Wing" set, I would STILL be buying LEGOS for MYSELF, as well as buying them for nephews and nieces.

Comment: Embracing technological tools... (Score 1) 570

by jim_deane (#41814905) Attached to: Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence?

Schools should embrace the new technology available to them. We are now able to produce interactive educational experiences with portable devices, created by the very BEST teachers. Students are able to use the devices at their own pace, studying a concept over and over until they really "get" it. Why have students together, learning at an artificial pace, studying curriculum created by someone who is merely average?
Of course, the technology I refer to is the Gutenberg Press (ca. 1440), and the interactive educational experiences are mass-produced "textbooks".

Or it is the postal service and correspondence courses (ca. 1900), Or radio and broadcast education (ca. 1940). Or television and televised courses (ca. 1960). Or mainframe computers and computer-based learning (ca. 1975). Etc. etc.

I think until we have artificial intelligences advanced enough to understand human thought, preconceptions, and learning as well as a well-educated human, actual human teachers with (real or virtual) classes will remain an essential part of education for most people in most subjects. While I am a teacher, I came into the profession through an alternative route, and held these opinions before I ever considered teaching.

Comment: Re:And the unions are pissed... (Score 3, Informative) 575

by jim_deane (#40760031) Attached to: Khan Academy: the Teachers Strike Back

About the only teachers that work any significant about beyond the 6-7 hour school day are teachers that must grade essays. So, your myth is already busted.

I teach physics. There are some problems with the statement I put in italics above. I recognize that the facts vary from district to district, but I have also never met a teacher in any district that had a regular 6 or 7 hour day.

Our contracted day is 8.5 hours long, which includes one 22 minute lunch. Technically, I'm finished at 3:45. Almost every day of the week, I am there at least one hour late, often two. There are labs to plan and setup, students who need help, and meetings to attend. If I average an hour and a half of extra time at school, that's already 10 hours per day. I also take work home if I can't get it done after school because, for example, students come in needing help or reassessment. Perhaps on average an extra half hour per night.

If I average 10 hours a day at work and a half hour a day at home, that's about 1880 hours per academic year. That's 90% of the 2080 hours a normal 8 hr/day full time job.

There are also the other professional activities and duties I participate in, such as continuing education, networking with other science teachers and scientists, and keeping current on research in physics and education. I take classes and attend workshops and conferences during the summers. For example, I have spent about four hours per week researching and planning, plus five full days on-site at workshops this summer.

I'm not complaining, I just prefer that people take a more factual look at teaching careers, not the mythical "6 hour day part time job" that many people would have you believe.

Comment: Re:Bigger Problem (Score 1) 493

by jim_deane (#40242407) Attached to: Classroom Clashes Over Science Education

Heck, ideally I'd say hold a class-wide experiment once a month or so to figure something out - students work in small "research groups" attacking the problem from different angles, but by the end of the "research window" (days?, weeks?) everyone needs to reach a consensus on what the "real" answer is, with some sort of prize (pizza party? movie break?) if they're correct within a certain margin of error so that they actually care. Then, once everyone has agreed, bring in a professional who can provide a conclusive answer in an understandable manner to verify the results. Not only would that provide a taste of real science, but it would also provide a periodic reminder of the fact that in the face of an implacable universe the best speakers and most inspiring/popular/attractive students generally aren't the ones you want to be listening to if you want to get it right.

Your statement bears some relation to how Modeling Instruction works, although the research/lab experiences are usually a bit more frequent than once a month, at least if the class is keeping up with the expected pace. There is no pizza party, and usually no "professional" providing a conclusive answer. The 'answers' come from the students' analysis of their data and reaching a consensus through group-group interaction.

In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences. -- R.G. Ingersoll